The Emmons Horrigan O’Neil Memorial ice rink – under the authority of the state Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) – took delivery of a brand new Zamboni ice resurfacer on Monday afternoon, but that only scratched the surface of what is to come at the heavily-used facility.
DCR Commissioner Jim Montgomery was on hand with State Rep. Dan Ryan, rink managers and leaders from the Charlestown Youth Hockey Association (CYHA) on Monday to celebrate the arrival of a brand new Zamboni, and to also announce a further $2 million investment in the rink’s team rooms, a new entrance and accessibility improvements.
“We’re happy to manage these rinks in the City and our four dozen statewide as well,” said Montgomery. “This presents the opportunity for kids to get out and participate in a sport they can play and be active and out of the house. These improvements help them to be able to participate and build teamwork, positive mental health and physical health too. We’re thrilled to be able to provide this service here.”
The new Zamboni adds to the $1.2 million investment in new refrigeration equipment at the rink in 2018. The $2 million renovations of the team rooms, the new main entrance facing the Peter Looney Park and accessibility upgrades is now just beyond the conceptual design phase, said the DCR. Designs on that project are expected to be complete in late 2021, and construction is expected to begin in the spring of 2022 and conclude in time for the start of the skating/hockey season in the fall of 2022. None of the work is expected to impact operations of the rink.
Before all of that, however, the conceptual design will move to the 25 percent design phase in the next few months. Once that milestone is reached, the DCR said it would be out to hold virtual public meetings to present designs to the public and gather input from abutters and stakeholders.
CYHA leaders said the Zamboni and the announced plans were a further strengthening of their relationship with the DCR and its great management and ownership of the Charlestown rink.
“The DCR really puts the community first in the way they handle the Charlestown Rink,” said John Sutich, board member. “That’s been obvious by how many renovations they’ve done in the last five years to make it a lot nicer facility. In doing so, they’ve always invited CYHA and other groups to participate in the conversation first. CYHA is able to do what it does for Charlestown and surrounding city families because of the DCR. We’re serving more families than ever now.”
Frawley added that the DCR is a great partner because their management allows for affordable rates for non-profits like CYHA and other local groups.
“It’s much different than what other rinks do,” he said. “When they go for-profit, other teams that can pay ore will get the ice time. This is a community space and DCR puts the community first.”
State Rep. Dan Ryan was on hand Monday to celebrate the new investments and said it builds on other investments over the last few years.
“I want to thank the DCR and Commissioner Montgomery for their continued investments in the Charlestown rink,” he said. “This Zamboni will go a long way in ensuring that our kids continue to have a great surface to skate on.”
CYHA leaders said they also wanted to thank Rep. Ryan for his advocacy in the State House, and also State Sen. Sal DiDomenico – both of whom have had the DCR rink high on their list of priorities.
Sutich said CYHA is serving around 300 kids now, which is almost double from a few years back before renovations to the rink began. This year, there are four girls teams, 12 boys/co-ed teams, a micro hockey program and a Learn to Skate program.