WILMINGTON — Many in the community have expressed a need for a town ice rink in Wilmington, including the Wilmington school department.
On Oct. 30, 2019, the Wilmington Ice Rink and Recreational Facilities Committee met, and committee members discussed ways to achieve this goal without having a great financial impact on taxpayers.
The committee is looking into options to use land already owned by the town that meet the prerequisite of size and location for an ice rink. Under consideration is also the option to perhaps find a donor, such as the state or private business/individual to donate land for the purpose of a rink to be used by the town.
As of yet, the committee has not been able to come up with a viable site on town or state owned land.
State owned land was recently researched by Recreational Director Karen Campbell, but only three of the sites researched met the criteria for size, and of the three sites, all were found to be unusable due to different issues with the land itself.
Committee Chairperson, Mark DiGiovanni stated, “We will continue to review sites further. The committee hopes to find suitable town land, but are considering other options.”
Committee members would also like to investigate an agreement similar to the one used at the Wellesley Sport Center, located in Wellesley.
Built and managed by ESG Associates Incorporated, the Wellesley Sports Center houses two ice sheets, two pools, indoor turf and tracks, and a weights and conditioning center.
The Wellesley School Department as well as the Town Of Wellesley Youth Hockey, Youth Lacrosse, Youth Soccer, and Swim Association are considered anchor tenants of the center and receive favored use time for these town organizations.
It was also discussed that if a private landowner was found, a TIF ( tax increment financing) could be considered to construct the ice rink. This tax incentive would allow the town to collect 100 percent of existing real estate tax revenue, but allow a tax exemption on increased property value due to improvements. This incentive would also discount projected future taxes during the span of the TIF.
Committee members are also considering approaching the Shriners, as they own 60+ acres of land in an industrial area of town, or the Benevento Company to see if either would be interested in donating any land to the town for a rink.
Committee member Dan Ardito met with Richard Gallant, the new owner of the Ristuccia Rink. Along with Town Manager Jeff Hull, they approached concerns over ice pricing and accessibility for the Wilmington Youth Hockey and Wilmington High School, and potential goals to collaborate on for the future.
DiGiovanni said of the meeting, “We are still at the introduction stage, getting to know Mr. Gallant, and he is becoming familiar with the purpose of this committee.”
Chairperson DiGiovanni is hopeful that future meetings will happen.
Public comments at passed meetings suggested that fundraising could be done to pay for a rink, and the Wilmington Hockey Community would support partnering with another community to share a rink in a nearby town.
“A regional rink is still an option. Partnering with another town with the use of state or town land would be considered,” said DiGiovanni. “The committee is still in an investigative period, and we are considering all options and pathways.”
As for the upcoming 2019-2020 hockey season for Wilmington Youth Hockey and WHS Hockey, there will be no change in venue or scheduling from last season at this time, according to the chairman.