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Belmar Wants an Ice Skating Rink

Negotiations to bring an outdoor rink are in the works

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." 

kevin Farmer July 26, 2012 at 05:10 PM
Mayor Matt Doherty is a horse's arse, they were offered this same opportunity for a free rink from Bill Merkler 4 years ago, but because it came from Bill Merkler a Republican on the town council, the mayor turned it down.Now the Mayor thinks its a great idea.I am happy for Belmar but the Mayor should n't let politics play into his decisons to improve the town.
Beryl Cusic July 26, 2012 at 05:19 PM
sure, let's cover every piece of open space with a Ice rink, or wine bar and let's not fix what is wrong with the 8 prexisiting empty store fronts before we add 8 more........way to go
Philip Passes July 27, 2012 at 10:47 PM
The first comment is a clear reflection of why the country is where where we are today. While I am not a card carrying Democrat, no one can deny the vast improvement in all aspect of Belmar over the past year and a half, since Matt Doherty has been mayor. The Republican Bill Merkler reference seems a bit misplaced since Mayor Doherty was not mayor 4 years ago. If you don't like the idea, make your case at a town meeting. Otherwise, I take my hat off to Mayor Doherty to his job thus far. Maybe we all need to put party affiliation a bit aside.
kevin Farmer July 30, 2012 at 02:54 PM
Philip, if you fully read my comment , I said I was all for town improvement. The Current mayor was on the town council and voted against the donated ice rink plan 4 years ago when it was first proposed. It was a not for profit group, that was going to put it on private donated space on the corner of 8th and Main street. The rink would have brought much needed foot traffic to the main street biz district. So I am CLEAR to you Philip, I am for the ice rink. I find it funny that the Mayor is fully behind this "NEW" plan, when he was so against the plan 4 years ago as a town councilman. I put new in quotes for you Philip , so you might pick up on my sarcasm. I hope Philip , I will see you at a town meeting speaking up about Lake Como allowing a 533 foot tower, unless you like the idea of a tower almost twice the height of the current one looming overhead. I have been to several town meetings and spoken up about the issue. Unless you think people like me are why a bad zoning decision years back should not be made worst today , by being short sighted for $54,000 in new tax revenue. Better yet , we could hang some lights off the new tower and have the world's tallest Christmas tree to go along with that "NEW" ice rink.

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