Proposed Ice Rink Gets Guideposts Along With A ‘Fast And Furious’ Timeline

Photo: Town officials speaking on guidelines/time frame for a new ice skating rink in Belmont; (from left) Jon Marshall, Jeffrey Wheeler, Patrice Garvin, Tom Caputo.

During its final meeting until September, the Belmont School Committee voted on Tuesday, June 18 to approve a list of “guiding principles” for a Request for Proposal for a new ice skating rink that will ensure the school district and town will have a significant say in future of the public/private venture.

The list of suggestions that includes size, uses and oversight of the new rink, will provide “potential applicant the freedom to explore a variety of different [design] options,” said Tom Caputo, chair of the Board of Selectmen.

In addition to the guideline, the town presented a very tight timeline going from the release of a draft RFP in early September to finalizing a public/private lease with a selected development team in late November.

“The calendar is critical and that everybody buys into it,” insisted Jeffrey Wheeler, the town’s senior planner who will be working over the next two months with the Town Administrator’s Office and a working group of school committee members creating the RFP.

An anticipated vote on a location of the rink was delayed until after a traffic study is conducted with the aim of determining the best place for the “curb cut” from Concord Avenue.

“We felt that until that was determined, we really couldn’t figure out the place to site the rink,” said Patrice Garvin, Belmont Town Administrator who was joined by Jon Marshall. the assistant town manager who will lead the effort in writing the RFP.

The school committee guidelines include:

• A rink with one and a half sheets of ice is “acceptable” but developers can submit a plan for a single ice sheet.

• developer should minimize the building’s footprint to accomodate three playing fields for high school sports.

• The rink will include between 70 to 90 parking spaces within the site design; the spaces will be available for student parking at the new Middle and High School.

• The need for locker rooms to accommodate the high school teams and can be used for fall and spring sports.

• Ice time will be allocated to the high school teams and reduced rates for Recreation Department programs.

• The developer must submit a financial model to demonstrate financial viability.

• The creation of an oversight committee to secure the terms of the lease are being fulfilled.

While the town will be performing the heavy lifting of creating the proposal with many moving parts, the real challenge is a fast and furious timeline imposed by the town that calls for the approve the RFP, selecting a developer, OKing a lease and then signing a comprehensive public/private agreement all within a tiddy three months.

According to Wheeler, the accelerated timeline starts the day after Labor Day (Sept. 3) with a draft RFP sent to school committee members and the Select Board for edits and review.

It will be followed over the next two weeks by a pair of public meetings (Sept. 10 and 17) for residents input before a final RFP is approved on Sept. 24. A day later, the RFP is out before potential developers who will have a shortened five-week interval to submit a bid to the community development office by Oct. 30.

Just six days later on Nov. 5, the Select Board and the School Committee will select the best proposal followed eight days later on Nov. 13 with Special Town Meeting voting to approve leasing town/school land to a private developer.

Finally, two days before Thanksgiving (Nov. 26), the Select Board and School Committee will award a contract to the winning proposal on Nov. 26.

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