Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Details Delay Contract to Operate Ice Arena

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Details Delay Contract to Operate Ice Arena

Article excerpt

ENGLEWOOD - Nearly two months after the City Council picked the Boys & Girls Club of Garfield to run the John T. Wright Arena in Mackay Park., the 10-year lease to operate the ice rink has yet to be signed.

Neither side would say what is holding up the agreement, which calls for a $25,000-a-year payment to the city, saying only that they expect to resolve any differences soon.

"I expect everything to work out," said Paul Casey, executive director of the Boys & Girls Club. "We're really excited, and we're all thrilled that we're being given this opportunity."

In its request for proposals this year, the city set Sept. 1 as the date it wanted a new operator to take over the rink. The lingering uncertainty is making some coaches anxious.

"I don't know what Plan B is," said Andy Escala, head coach of the Tenafly High School hockey team, which uses Mackay as its home ice. "If it keeps going without a lease signed ... our team needs a place to play."

City officials say the Boys & Girls Club will help transform the 34-year-old arena from simply an ice rink to a year-round venue for Englewood youth. The city is spending $280,000 to upgrade the facility, including installation of a new cooling tower, pipes, valves, gas lines and heating system. The work is expected to be completed by Oct. 15 and the rink would reopen shortly after.

Casey said the organization still has more questions about taking over the rink but declined to elaborate, saying he did not want to discuss contractual issues publicly.

Casey also declined to discuss the Garfield chapter's financial problems. According to its 2010 tax return, the most recent on file, the non-profit ended the year more than $137,000 in debt. The chapter's finances have fluctuated greatly, ending 2005 with a $312,000 surplus and 2006 with a $232,000 deficit, according to its tax returns.

Casey said the club quadrupled the number of children it serves over the past four to five years, with at total of 2,000 children now attending club-sponsored programs that serve 400 daily.

"We're an organization providing a significant service and impact on the community," he said. "If we've seen that kind of success in one community, there's no reason why we can't see it in another. …

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