Photo: A new rink will replace the five decade old “Skip” Viglirolo Skating Rink.
In the same week the Belmont’s Skip Viglirolo Skating Rink was forced to shut down due to “unseasonably warm” temperatures – in January(!)– the town and schools OKed opening the bidding process to build a next-generation private/public partnership skating facility on school property west of Harris Field.
“This is actually a big moment in the development of this project,” said Jeffery Wheller, Belmont’s senior planner before a joint meeting of the Select Board and School Committee as each group voted unanimously to approve the release of the final version of the request for proposal on Jan. 15.
“Hopefully after tonight’s presentation we’ll get some exciting responses to the project,” he said.
The town’s Community Development Office also released a seven-month timeline of important milestones the RFP will undergo before a deal is struck.
- Wednesday, Jan. 15: RFP is released to the public.
- Wednesday, Jan. 29: Site visit and preliminary meeting with interested parties.
- Tuesday, Feb. 25: Select Board/School Committee discuss review process.
- Friday, March 20: Proposals are due.
- Tuesday, April 7: School Committee/Select Board review top proposals.
- Tuesday, April 28: School Committee/Select Board interview best proposals.
- Tuesday, May 12: School Committee/Select Board selects the winning proposal.
- Monday, June 1: On the second night of the 2020 annual Town Meeting, a Special Town Meeting will be convened to vote: 1). To lease school property to a private developer(s) and 2). amend the definition in the town’s zoning bylaw on municipal recreational uses.
- Tuesday, June 9: School Committee awards a contract to the winning proposal.
- Between June 10 to July 8: School Committee negotiates a long-term lease with the selected developer(s).
The town is predicting the design and site plan review process managed by the Planning Board will take between six to nine months. Only when that is completed can the developer seek a building permit.
The existing rink – known as “The Skip” – will remain in operation until the new facility is up and running and will be taken down by the town unless the area that the rink currently occupies will is needed to fulfill the town’s programmatic needs.
The RFP is fairly similar to earlier drafts, although a proposed tennis complex has been removed from the proposal.
The main features of the RFP include:
- The facility – which may be expanded to be a year round operation – will need to share the land west of the existing rink and Harris Field with three athletic fields, a pair of throwing circles and 110 parking spaces (90 reserved for students on school days) that will be built at town expense.
- The facility – with a maximum height of two-and-a-half stories – can contain a full-size and one half-size sheet of ice. The building will have at least 300 seats for spectators, public restrooms, a skate shop and food concessions.
- The building will have a minimum of four locker rooms with two containing 35 lockers for boys’ and girls’ varsity and the other two with 45 lockers for the junior varsity teams. Each room will have a coaches room, showers and storage. The facility will also have a refs room, an athletic trainers room and wet area.
- Two locker rooms will also be used by high school fall and spring sports, one each for the home and visiting teams. The restrooms will also have outdoor accessibility.
- The town would “prefer” a zero-net energy facility i.e. avoiding fossil fuels to power the site.
- The high school’s ice hockey teams will have four consecutive hours of ice time Monday to Saturday, during the 15-week season. Games will be played over two hours. Belmont Youth Hockey will have hours and times that meet its growing needs as will programs linked to the town’s Recreation Department.
- The hours of operation will be negotiated with the winning bidder and the town.
Each candidate will be evaluated and ranked based on a matrix in which the town will grade the four comparative evaluation criteria the town has selected.
For example, those bidders that can show experience designing and building a significant number of similar rinks that have been successful and with similar goals as Belmont is seeking will receive a “very advantageous” ranking; those who have built only “some” facilities will be seen as being “advantageous” while those with no experience constructing rinks will be deemed “non-advantageous.”