WESTFIELD, NJ — A standing room-only crowd cheered and booed Tuesday night after the town council, with a 6-3 vote, passed a resolution granting Mayor Shelley Brindle the authority to negotiate a lease agreement with Arena Realty Partners for a temporary ice rink at Gumbert Park this winter.
Brindle made her case for testing out the public-private partnership.
“I don’t want this trial going to another town,” she said. “I don’t. You know, what if it’s great? And at the end of the day, if we decide that it’s worthy of a permanent location someplace else, we’re going to need a private entity to run it. As much as I love our DPW, I do not see them driving Zamboni machines.”
Council members Mike Dardia, JoAnn Neylan and Doug Stokes voted “no.” All three cited concerns about the rink’s possible effects on the neighborhood and Neylan and Stokes expressed concern about the speed of the process. (Union Sports Arena owner Ken Anderson had brought the proposed rink to the council on April 10, though Mayor Brindle said that the previous administration had already been aware of the idea.)
“This is just going through a little bit fast for me,” Stokes told the audience.
If negotiations are successful, plans call for the rink to be constructed in the area of the basketball courts and used from November 2018 through February 2019.
The lease will be subject to final agreement on terms, Brindle said.
“I will not be unilaterally negotiating this lease,” she said. “It will go through this process to make sure that we have gotten feedback from all the council members here who represent all of you.”
An FAQ about the rink is available on the town’s website, www.WestfieldNJ.Gov.