Photo: The location of the new skating rink on Concord Avenue
In an effort to prevent the proposed Municipal Skating Rink project grinding to a halt, the Belmont Select Board approved on Monday, Aug. 8, the use of $200,000 in American Rescue Plan Act funding to allow the design team to begin hiring subcontractors to allow work on the facility to continue.
This additional funding comes as the project awaits a debt exclusion vote on Nov. 8 to pay for the new 46,000 sq.-ft. skating facility on Concord Avenue adjacent to Belmont High School’s Harris Field.
“We’d like to have an interim fund that will get us to sometime in October,” said Mark Haley, chair of the rink skating committee told the board Monday.
A public forum on the new skating rink facility hosted by the rink will take place remotely on Wednesday, August 17 at 6 p.m. A Zoom link and the meeting agenda can be found here.
Haley reiterated comments from when the Select Board put the debt exclusion on the ballot on July 28 that the project would need additional funds. Preliminary work on the rink beginning in the spring of 2022 after the town secured $250,000 in state ARPA funding. As of the first week in August, $95,000 remain from that initial amount.
Haley told the board the additional funding will allow the design team – headed by architect Ted Galante of Ted Galante Architecture Studio – to hire structural and mechanical engineers to firm up the price tag for the rink, which all sides agreed is a critical component before the vote in November. Currently, the list price to replace the antiquated “Skip” Vigilrolo rink has been calculated around $32-$34 million.
More detailed schematic drawings – for plumbing and interior design – will allow Galante to firm up the price of the new rink. “It sounds like a lot of money, but we’re at a point where [Galante] needs to bring on all these outside people to get the information we need” on the building as well as the parking and landscaping,” said Ann Marie Mahoney, a member of the building committee.
“So for us to have a really good and solid number to start advertising for the debt exclusion, we really need to do this and do it now,” said Mahoney.
In addition, the project will be able to quickly move from design to construction soon after the debt is “hopeful” passed by the voters, said Haley.
With a successful debt exclusion, the ARPA funds will be reimbursed to the town, said Haley. Even if the ballot question is defeated, this additional funding will be spent on necessary work such as the demolition of the White Field House and parking and field designs.
Initially, Haley sought $300,000 in ARPA funds which was reduced by $100,000 after the Select Board member Adam Dash said, while OK with providing this transfer, ”I’m just concerned that $300,000 was a little higher than I was expecting.”
In a compromise, the amount approved was lowered to $200,000 with the board placing on its Aug. 29 meeting agenda a possible vote on releasing an additional $100,000 for necessary design work. As part of the agreement, the building committee will inform both Town Moderator Mike Widmer and the Select Board on a biweekly basis “what we are spending and we’ll try to bring it in less than that,” said Haley.
”We want to be to the extent possible as detailed as possible in terms of what we report out to the community on this build,” said Mark Paolillo, select board chair. ”The more refined [the cost] we be on the expected cost and to inform the residents about that, the better.”