Ongoing talks between Belmar officials and a hockey rink consultant could put an outdoor ice skating rink in Dempsey Park by the winter.
Last week the borough's governing body heard a presentation from George Haviland Jr. of Ice World Consulting, LLC, who said he'd like to construct an outdoor rink at the current site of the Belmar Skate Park for recreation, hockey and figure skating.
The Wall-based firm would carry all the costs of construction and maintenance, pay rent to the borough, and manage and staff both the rink and skate park, which would be moved to the opposite end of the park, Haviland said.
The rink would also be run as a nonprofit entity and provide borough residents with discounted rental and skating rates, he said.
"I look at it as an opportunity to give kids and adults as well the chance to learn how to ice skate and maybe learn to to play hockey and be a figure skater as well," Haviland said.
Ice World operates nine other ice rinks across the country, including one as nearby as Howell Ice World, Haviland said.
The proposed rink is 160-feet by 60-feet, smaller than an NHL-sized ice surface, which run 200-feet by 80-feet. Haviland said the proposed rink could fit up to 350 skaters during a public skating session.
He also plans to decorate the area with Christmas trees, creating a "Rockerfeller Center" atmosphere at the park.
And since he can maintain ice when the weather is as warm as 70-degrees, Haviland said he envisions the rink could be open from mid-November to mid-March.
"I understand the community's need for activity in the winter months," Haviland said. "My plan really is for it to be for the community and the shoreline to have something a little bit unique that most towns don't offer."
Mayor Matt Doherty said this week that he'd like to find a way to turn the ice rink into a roller rink during the warm-weather months.
While Haviland said the cost-analysis is still forthcoming, he envisions borough residents would likely be charged a discounted rate to use the rink — $3 to skate and $3 to rent skates is the township price at the firm's Massachussetts rink. The industry standard is $8 to skate and $4 to rent, but borough residents would definitely pay less that that, he said.
If the proposal is approved by the governing body, the rink can be up-and-running within three weeks, Haviland said.
Haviland grew up in New Jersey, and played high school hockey in Middletown and then in the minor leagues in Canada. He currently resides in Wall.
On top of providing winter recreation for locals, Haviland said he was eager to use the facility to find hockey players to develop at his Howell rink.
"The plan is certainly for us to develop players to come — and figure skaters and skaters — to come to our (Farmingdale) facility while the Belmar facility is not in use."