Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Mayor's Ice Rink Alert Angers Mahwah Council

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Mayor's Ice Rink Alert Angers Mahwah Council

Article excerpt

MAHWAH -- Township Council members were fuming Thursday over an alert sent out by Mayor Bill Laforet that they say blames them for the closure of a township ice rink.

The governing body had raised safety concerns about the rink a week ago but had not called for closing it.

"Instead of shutting it down to fix the issues that need to be addressed, he's shutting it down because the council said to -- and we didn't," said council Vice President Steve Sbarra.

The fate of the rink now depends in part upon an insurance risk assessment manager's report that officials expect to receive today. And the mayor said in the message to residents Thursday that the rink will be closed until the council provides a list of its concerns and how it wants them addressed.

The rink, funded and operated by the Mahwah Municipal Alliance, a non-profit group derived from the Police Department's former DARE program, was installed about three weeks ago at the township's roller hockey rink on Darlington Avenue. The alliance paid about $5,000 and hired a company that does backyard skating rinks to lay down a plastic liner that was flooded with 4 inches of water when the temperature dropped to 8 degrees a few weeks ago. It froze within two days, Laforet, a member of the alliance, said.

Laforet said the roller hockey rink is known as the "MMA hockey rink."

"There is no formal certification," he said. "That's what people commonly know it as."

Council members questioned the safety of the rink. They included Sbarra, who for more than a dozen years was involved with the township's hockey programs. Small children are figure skating in the same space where older kids are playing ice hockey, there is no supervision and no way to smooth out the ice after snow or debris gets on it, and the liner was screwed into fiberglass dasher boards, valued at $40,000, that are now most likely ruined, council President John Roth said.

"Normally when anyone wants to alter a township asset, they have to approach the council," Roth said, adding, "We weren't aware we had an ice rink until the mayor's Nixle message announcing Skating Under the Stars. …

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