Editor's Note: Matt Maranz served on the Westfield Rink Advisory Committee.
The Hockey Rink at Gumbert Park is the right idea in the wrong location. This season was plagued by noise, aesthetics and parking problems that negatively impacted the quality of life for those living in the neighborhood.
If the Town Council is going to renew the rink, the Council needs to take steps to ensure the rink becomes a better neighbor. Unfortunately, the rink owner’s proposal for next season makes these problems worse, not better. The Gumbert Neighborhood has provided a 15 Point Plan designed to reduce disruptions and restore the quality of life to the area surrounding the rink. We believe the Town Council should make the renewal of the rink conditional upon incorporating these points into the Season 2 plan.
To improve the AESTHETICS:
1. Eliminate all mobile trailers so the park does not look like a construction site
2. Hide all fencing behind shrubbery rather than behind wrapping, banners and murals
3. Move all equipment, including the Zamboni, to the North Avenue side of the rink away from the residential area
4. Dump all Zamboni shavings on the North Avenue side of the rink
5. Modify plans so they no longer violate town zoning ordinances
To decrease the NOISE problems caused by hockey:
6. Cover all sides of the tent
7. No hockey after 7 p.m.
8. No hockey before 9 a.m.
9. Close the rink of Christmas, Christmas Eve and Thanksgiving
To limit the PARKING problems:
10. Add rink staff to monitor parking in Gumbert lot, Mews parking lot and along 4th Avenue
11. Allow parking on only one side of 4th Avenue (should be a permanent, year-round policy for safety reason)
12. No back-to-back games. Other facilities facing similar parking issues stagger games to lessen parking overflows. Should be at 30 minutes in between games
To help improve USAGE of the park:
13. Shorten term to October 15 through March 15. Late October and late March are big usage months for the park. Gumbert is not under-utilized during the late fall and early spring
14. Less hockey and more general sessions open to the broader population. Instead of the 80-20 ratio in favor of hockey that occurred in Season 1, the split should be closer to 50-50. Make it a Community Ice Rink with broad engagement, not just a hockey rink.
15. Create more Community events. Rather than simply re-locating previously existing events to Gumbert like this year, actually create new community events
These steps should be established as a condition for renewal, otherwise, neither the Town nor the rink will have done anything to solve the problems from Season 1.
Local News: Westfield Recreation Commission Says Gumbert Park Again for an Ice Rink
Local News: 9 Roads Being Repaved in About 10 Days in Westfield
Local Opinion: Response to Garwood Council's Letter on the Westfield Ice Rink