Garwood Police offered a warning to ice rink patrons who slide their cars into the wrong spots: Beware the tow truck.
WESTFIELD, NJ — Just a month after its establishment under a massive tent in Gumbert Park, an ice rink has become wildly popular — too popular for some people.
The rink established on the Garwood border through a partnership with Westfield’s local government has served about 4,900 skaters, 2,100 of them during open skate hours in its first month, its operators said on Wednesday.
Municipal officials presented the rink as a way to buttress Westfield’s burgeoning ice hockey program and serve the region, but people living and working near the rink are concerned about its impacts.
“Aside from the fact that the complex looks like a trailer park that no one would choose as a neighbor, our concerns center around parking, noise and safety,” said Christine Spear, president of the Homeowners Association at the Pointe, a Garwood townhome complex within 50 feet of the rink.
Spear was among about 35 people at a “listening session” held before the Westfield Rink Advisory Committee on Wednesday, where many residents, most of them from Garwood, discussed concerns about lights from the rink spilling into yards a night, hockey pucks smacking into boards and the availability of parking.
Brad Rothenberg, the committee’s chairman, sought to focus the conversation on finding ways to improve the neighborhood and said some concerns have been addressed.
“Examples include having the rink operator reduce the chiller noise by installing noise absorption pads on the fencing surrounding the chillers,” Rothenberg said. “Another recommendation was to improve the look of the front entrance, which led to the plantings, fence covering and decorations.”
Westfield’s agreement with Union Sports Arena, which provides for a 50 percent profit share of proceeds from the rink, requires the operators take “all reasonable steps necessary” to reduce noise and light glare.
The prime concern for Claudia Loomis, co-owner of Cherrybrook Pet Supplies on North Avenue in Garwood, however, is that ice rink patrons are taking parking spots from her customers in a private lot, something she claims impacted her bottom line on the typically busy small Black Friday and Small Business Saturday weekend.
“Our sales this year in our Garwood location were down 24 percent from last year,” Loomis said. “We had customers come in later that week and express to us that they didn’t come in because they couldn’t find a place to park during the sale.”
Garwood Police Chief James Wright said other local businesses served by the same private lot have had similar concerns, and he offered a warning to ice rink patrons who slide their cars into spots in the private lot: Beware the tow truck.
“They have the right to tow vehicles,” Wright said. “That’s the extreme that they don’t want to go to, but we don’t want to have these parents park in the private lots.”
Email Staff Writer Matt Kadosh at firstname.lastname@example.org; Follow him on Twitter: @MattKadosh