2014-11-28 / Community

Proposed ice rink’s location is tweaked

By Michael Kelley
Staff Writer

SCARBOROUGH – Friends of Scarborough Hockey, a private group looking to build an ice rink on the municipal campus, is still looking to construct the facility on campus, but not at the site originally proposed.

The Ice Arena Planning Committee met late last week to pick a site for the 40,000-square-foot facility that would be used as home ice for Scarborough, South Portland and Cape Elizabeth hockey programs, as well as community skates and other public events.

Friends of Scarborough Hockey had originally proposed using a parcel of land on the corner of the Oak Hill intersection in between Scarborough High School and Bangor Savings Bank on Route 1. That site was met with opposition, due, in part, to the traffic congestion it would create around the high school and the fact that it could, one day, be used for expansion of the high school. On Nov. 21, the planning committee turned its focus to a piece of land that abuts Gorham Road between Wentworth Drive and Quentin Drive. The property houses the town’s tennis courts and outdoor basketball courts. The rest of the property is made up of wetlands. Lee Allen, a member of the board of Friends of Scarborough Hockey and a civil engineer with Northeast Civil Solutions, said it could cost $500,000 to mitigate wetlands on that site.

The site of the basketball courts is the location preferred by the majority of committee members, including Town Councilor Bill Donovan, Director of Community Services Bruce Gullifer, town traffic engineer Bill Bray, Scarborough Athletic and Activities Director Mike LeGage and the Friends of Scarborough Hockey board. Board of Education member Chris Caiazzo and Community Services staff member Steve Quirk opted for locating the rink on the tennis court side of the parcel.

Nancy Crowell, director of the Scarborough Public Library, said she preferred constructing the facility on the site of the existing outdoor rink and maintenance shed by the entrance to the Wentworth School parking lot.

“I think that is the ideal location,” Crowell said, adding her opposition to the basketball site stems from safety concerns and the impact additional impervious surface would have on stormwater runoff at the library, which is located across Quentin Drive.

LeGage said putting the facility on the site of the existing outdoor rink — his least-preferred option — would pose “enormous safety issues” when events happen on campus.

It is already challenging enough, he said, when the campus is hosting multiple games or community events, such as concerts or meetings. LeGage said if the facility is put there, the entire traffic flow around the campus might have to be reworked.

The building was originally oriented on the basketball court site to face Quentin Road, but will be turned to face the newly constructed Wentworth School parking lot, with the back of the building pm Gorham Road. A bus loop and additional parking might have to be constructed to accommodate the facility on the site.

LeGage said wherever the facility is sited, it is “going to afford us a great deal of opportunity, not just for our students, but the entire community.” The rink will offer ice time to schools and other groups from October to April, and be open in the off-season for other community uses. Donovan recently met with the town’s Senior Advisory Committee to find ways senior citizens could capitalize on using the space. He said the facility could be a place for seniors to meet, play cards or games or do light aerobics.

Chuck Bradish, a member of the Friends of Scarborough Hockey, said his group will present the basketball site as its preferred location to the Town Council Wednesday, Dec. 3, and will spend the time until then ironing out the details.

Securing the site will allow the group to begin its efforts to raise the $5.5 million needed to construct the facility and have it open by October 2015. Once the money is raised, the plan will go before the Planning Board for a site plan review.

“There is still a lot of work to do. There is millions of dollars to raise. This is very preliminary,” Gullifer said.

One thing to figure out is where the basketball or tennis courts would be relocated if they were impacted by the hockey rink, something that is likely to occur. One option, Caiazzo said, could be to locate courts next to the skate park in Memorial Park.

The hockey rink might not be the only development between Wentworth and Quentin drives. There has been some talk about constructing a similar-sized community center there for seniors and other groups to meet for recreational opportunities. That, however, is not part of the Friends of Scarborough Hockey proposal and could be years away, if not longer.

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