The City issues a Request for Proposals for the operation and management of the Hamill Rink

On Monday, the city issued a request for proposals for the operation and management of an ice rink. Those who have followed the arduous and often acrimonious meetings of the rink’s user groups, this is an interesting development.

For the past two years, the rink project has been mired in discussions over whether a new access road to the rink via Western Jr Hwy is needed versus the current access via Smith Street North , which features a relatively steep hill.

There have been seemingly endless discussions about whether to tie the ice rink project to a relocated and reconfigured Strazza ball diamond. The idea was that as long as the rink staging was going to be on the pitch, why not redo the pitch and orient it correctly.

And there were considerations for Western Middle School students using the land instead of their own fields that have been fenced off for years due to soil contamination.

There were accusations of encroachment on the Veterans Memorial Grove in the corner of the park by the old Byram School. And there were questions about removing a strip of the remaining Byram canopy at the north end of the park to make room for a two-way road and sidewalk.

Couple all of these issues with discussions of Greenwich having to live without ice during construction and the need for a temporary ice rink. Alas, it cost millions of dollars.

Sprinkle the accusations that anyone balking at expanding the project as being “against a new rink”.

The 350-member Byram Neighborhood Association said of course it wanted a new rink, but questioned whether it needed to be located right in the middle of Eugene Morlot Park, which it sees as the only space neighborhood green.

Also, they questioned the new rink being the size of a Walmart, even though there wouldn’t be a concession stand, but rather a food truck area.

In December 2021, the proposal went before the P&Z committee. It included a new access road, a new Strazza pitch and a new ice rink. The commission balked, noting that the work would require an enormous amount of disturbance to the site.

“I understand that to get the right bigger baseball field, you have to move the rink, but the amount of regrading you would need to do, and with the impact on surrounding residential uses, the question is whether there is a better way this site can fit into the neighborhood and its tradition of open spaces, plantings and mature trees,” said P&Z President Margarita Alban.

Fast forward to this week and the September 12 call for tenders.

“The City is looking for a supplier, ideally a non-profit community organization, to take over the operations of the city’s skating rink”, indicates the RFP.

“The selected vendor would manage day-to-day operations, manage all programming and staff, and take care of building and equipment maintenance.”

In a section entitled Background mentions that the city seeks to “reduce the financial burden through effective external management”.

The deadline for the Request for Proposals is 11:00 a.m. on Wednesday, October 12, 2022.

The judging committee includes the city administrator and chief operating officer, the director of parks and recreation, a member of the RTM parks and recreation committee, the superintendent of recreation, the director of the skating school of the city, a member of the parks and recreation board and liaison officers of the BET.
Original Hamill Rink in a black and white photo on display in the rink today.
Hamill Rink was originally an outdoor installation. Later, a roof was added, possibly followed by walls.

ice rink background

The Dorothy Hamill Rink is located on Sue Merz Way and was built in 1971 as an outdoor rink with a 2,400 square foot detached building and 185′ x 85′ ice surface.

The building contained an office, rental room, locker room, two restrooms, a Zamboni room, and a mechanical room. Separate later projects added a roof system, exterior walls, interior modifications, the construction of spectator seating with changing rooms below, and the addition of a dehumidification system.

During the off-season, the rink is converted to a carpeted turf area and is available for indoor sports programs such as soccer and lacrosse.

However, the lack of air conditioning limits the demand for interior summer rentals.

The rink is closed for approximately 4 weeks between the winter and summer seasons to transition from ice to grass and back from grass to ice.

The existing ice rink is in the southeast corner of Morlot Park.

The scope of services

According to the RFP, the City is looking for a qualified third party supplier to operate the rink and manage the facility.

The selected supplier will be responsible for all personnel and equipment required to operate the rink.

The staff will be employees of the selected supplier. Operating equipment and supplies will be purchased and owned by the selected vendor.

The selected supplier will have wide latitude to operate the rink on a day-to-day basis, however, the objectives set out by the City in this RFP must be met.

View from the hill towards the Strazza pitch and the ice rink in the background. May 26, 2021 Photo: Leslie Yager

At a minimum, the selected supplier must also provide at least 415 hours of public skating, at a fee determined by the Board of Selectors, with a public skating schedule approved by the Director of Parks and Recreation (the city will not pay for the ice time; however, the vendor will retain the revenue collected from each public skate admission ticket)

The supplier will provide 50 hours of ice time, at no cost to the City, for a learn-to-skate program at the skating school.

The supplier will provide a minimum of 220 hours of ice time, at a fee determined by the Board of Selectmen, for Greenwich Public School hockey teams and paid for by Greenwich Public Schools.

The hours of these identified programs should reasonably reflect the current services provided to the community.

Seller must include options for Greenwich residents with income limitations.

The selected supplier should consider extending the operating season of the rink from its current level of service.

The selected provider should also consider providing services to people with disabilities.

Respondents may include proposals for concession services, skate shops, etc., that would go hand-in-hand with their proposed operations and services. Planning and zoning approvals permit operation between 7:00 a.m. and 11:00 p.m., seven days a week.

Capital investment

Ideally, the selected vendor, assuming responsibility for facilities management, will provide all necessary funds for the capital investment, including a replacement rink and capital equipment. The main value that the City must provide is the land, together with the existing plant and equipment for the initial operation. Long-term capital investment options for building a new rink may include, but are not limited to:

Proposed schedule

Reached by phone Tuesday, Parks & Rec director Joseph Siciliano said the idea for the RFP came from a conversation he had with then-assistant director Blaize Levitan, the city ​​administrator Ben Branyan and first coach Fred Camillo.

He explained that the RFP should be the start of a “conversation”.

“People can submit their proposals and we can have a detailed conversation about what the organization might need to operate and manage the facility,” Siciliano said.

“We wanted to be crystal clear that we have defined what the city needs, including hours of public ice time, skating lessons, hockey programs for all levels at Greenwich High School “, continued Siciliano.

Reached by phone Tuesday, first coach Fred Camillo said there was both a short-term and long-term component to the RFP.

“That’s what excites us,” he said. “Talking to hundreds of rink users since I’ve been in this office, I think this is going to be something that’s going to be embraced by residents and rink users and we’ll make sure we incorporate the points of view of everyone in the process.”

Camillo said the questions are what the rink will look like when finished and “if the city wants the rink to continue as it was or in the modern era.”

He noted that hockey and various skating programs are very popular, but the city has limited ice time.

That said, he noted that many years ago P&Z had approved opening the rink early.

“Perhaps an external vendor could produce a better product for the users of the facility,” he added.

Comments are closed.