A Big Chill for Fans Of Ice Sports
Unlike the appetizing summer specialties our local ice cream shops are scooping up, “Disappointment” seems to be the flavor of the month for ice skating fans in Newtown. A much-hoped-for ice rink at NYA facility at Fairfield Hills is not only on the skids but has slipped into oblivion. Incompatibility between the nonprofit entity and the for-profit developers has led this project to be a “no-go,” meaning that Newtown’s hockey players, figure skaters, and recreational skaters will need continued reliance on ice time at rinks outside of the town borders.
A year and a half ago, it appeared that the partnering of experienced ice rink owner Bob Crawford and founder and former NYA owner Pete D’Amico would be the ticket to finally seeing a rink take shape in Newtown.
At the time, a proposed sale of NYA back to Mr D’Amico seemed so palpable that hopes were raised high among sports fans. With the prospect of that property in hand, the new partnership had put forth a plan for converting indoor field space into the rink, and numbers seemed “crunched” for success, at no added cost to taxpayers. The anticipation seemed a taste of good things to come.
Instead, NYA will build on what currently exists — basketball, tennis, and indoor pickleball courts — none of which address the issues faced by those who love ice sports.
In a very unscientific Newtown Bee poll last year, 84 percent of the more than 600 respondents favored an ice rink in town. Funding the Nighthawks hockey team is costly for families — nearly $1,900 for each player this year, according to newtownhockey.com, to offset costs, including paying for ice time on out of town rinks.
Ice skating enthusiasts who thought dreams would finally come true join the ranks of the recently disappointed pickleball players whose hopes for additional outdoor courts were dashed in the April 23 referendum vote.
If Newtown is to have an ice rink that accommodates our hockey team and recreational skaters, other sites, expertise, and creative sources of funding will be necessary.
Ice sports fans need to be vocal if they do not want to see future prospects melt away. With enough education and awareness raised in the community regarding the benefits of an ice rink in Newtown, a good plan with solid financial backing has the potential to gain the support of townspeople.
Meanwhile, the soon-to-open community center will add a pool and possible exercise programs to the healthy lifestyle options available to residents. A Bike & Trails Committee is working to extend existing walking paths and incorporate and create new bike trails that are enjoyed by a great percentage of our population. With summer around the corner, the pool at Treadwell Park will open, as will swimming at Eichler’s Cover. These are all readily accessible to residents for leisure activities.
Skaters, though, must swallow excitement once again, and continue to look for the right moment to wedge a skate into an open doorway of opportunity.