Ice rink plan proposed for Fairfield golf course
Updated 6:47 am, Thursday, December 15, 2011
Tentative plans for an outdoor ice rink at H. Smith Richardson Golf Course have been unveiled.
The commission, however, took no formal vote on the proposal, and backers of the idea say it could take a few years to actually hit the ice.
"I'm all for it," Parks & Rec Chairman Ellery Plotkin said.
Commission member Alexa Mullady agreed. "I grew up in a town with sunken basketball courts," she said. In winter, the courts were flooded and froze over for skating -- "and they would be packed."
Curley said the idea for the outdoor rink -- similar to the facility at Westport's Longshore Park run by the local PAL -- came up during discussions about renovations at the golf course.
"Our infrastructure is crumbling," Curley said, and the golf panel will be looking to do an approximately $3.3 million renovation at the clubhouse. An ice rink, he said, would probably cost about $700,000.
The idea would be to locate the rink in part of the parking lot, near the clubhouse. It would be covered with a roof, but remain an open air rink, Curley said, and a patio could be built between the clubhouse restaurant and the rink.
In order to make sure revenue from the rink covered its expenses, Curley said it would be necessary to have the high schools' hockey teams rent the rink for practices and games, as well as having open skating for the general public.
"I've been approached by a number of hockey dads," Curley said. "Their point is `Field of Dreams,' if you build it they will come."
Commissioner Dante Gallucci said if members haven't seen the Westport rink, they should visit on a weekend. "It's really incredible how many people are there," he said.
Many Fairfield Scout troops go to the Westport rink for outings, commissioner member Jessica Gerber said, although they would probably prefer to stay closer to home.
The pavilion roof would come down during the golf season, while the plumbing would be installed in a concrete pad, making it simple to set up and take down the rink. During the warm months, the concrete pad could be used as parking for the course.
It would be a "pay as you go" operation, Curley said, like the golf course. Residents could buy a seasonal identification card for the rink and pay "resident" rates, or pay non-resident rates without it if they skate only a few times during the season. He said one of the assistant golf pros is an avid skater and would be interested in running a skate rental and sharpening operation out of the pro shop.
In addition, Curley said the owners of Brennan's Shebeen, the restaurant at the clubhouse, would like to keep the eatery open year-round if there were crowds of skaters during winter.
"I think there's a great opportunity here," Curley said.