Photo: Rendering of the Belmont Youth Hockey’s proposal to the town for a new rink.
To the editor:
On Nov. 10, the Belmontonian reported that eight months after receiving a single proposal for the development of a new skating facility, the town of Belmont determined the proposal was not economically feasible. While certainly convenient to blame the bidder, it was not true; the proposal submitted by Belmont Youth Hockey Association to develop a new facility was professionally vetted and fully financially feasible.
The deeper story is that the town issued a Request for Proposal that was never feasible. The RFP asked for more square footage of programming than currently exists in the designated development space west of Harris Field. In an area that currently houses the White Field House, one rink (the Skip), a soccer field, a softball field and facility parking – the town’s RFP asked for all of these to be maintained and improved while adding an additional half rink, baseball field, shot put and discus area and 90 additional parking spaces required by the new high school.
Once the review committee realized they needed more space to meet their own RFP requirements, the town made the decision to pass on the opportunity to adjust their expectations to make the project feasible. The town lacked the political will to address the need for incremental parking for the high school in an alternate location.
The decision by the Select Board to pass on the only proposal caps nearly 10 years of effort by Belmont Youth Hockey to address a critical issue: the town continues to operate a facility that is structurally and mechanically unsound. By passing, the town has eliminated any potential for a public/private partnership. Belmont is no longer a credible partner. The town wasted the time, resources, and diligent efforts of a consortium of financial, construction, design, operating firms, and individual volunteers all collaborating to solve a pressing safety and viability concern.
The positive news is that the path forward is now clear. By failing the RFP process, the town must move forward on its own. It’s time to allocate and approve the approximately $15-$20 million needed to rebuild the Skip and the White Field House and to do so as part of an integrated plan to develop the space west of Harris Field so that the pending development of the field space is not squandered. Continuing to deny the lack of structural integrity of a complex that services several thousand kids and adults each year is not a responsible option.
Belmont Youth Hockey