GREENWICH, CT — As the coronavirus continues to force residents to find fun ways to spend time outdoors, residents may have the opportunity to ice skate in Greenwich's downtown area this holiday season.
A proposal for a temporary ice skating rink at the Greenwich Commons park was presented to the Board of Selectman during their meeting Thursday. (To sign up for Greenwich breaking news alerts and more, click here.)
Sebastian Dostmann, a resident who spoke on behalf of the Greenwich Community Projects Fund, said the rink would not cost the town any money and would be paid for through a donation to the fund from PepsiCo, though he emphasized after the meeting "nothing is signed, sealed and delivered" yet.
Dostmann recently worked on the "Let There Be Lights" initiative to bring holiday lights to Greenwich Avenue this year. Similarly, he hoped the temporary rink would bring holiday happiness to residents while drawing them to the nearby Greenwich Avenue.
"It's a last minute project that will hopefully bring some holiday cheer to the avenue," Dostmann said, "and, hopefully, drive some business down to the avenue for the merchants and restaurants."
As proposed, the rink would be open from Nov. 27 through Jan. 18 and operate from 12 p.m. to 7 p.m. on weekdays and 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on weekends, Dostmann said. The rink would be free to use and also offer skate rentals.
Dostmann said he is working with Parks and Recreation Director Joseph Siciliano to identify department heads to speak with for various necessary approvals.
"There's a lot of moving parts to this," Dostmann said, "but I'm excited to have the opportunity to pull it all together."
He also emphasized the rink could provide residents with a "safe and social" outside environment and, hopefully, drive business to downtown merchants who have been struggling this year due to the coronavirus crisis.
Following the presentation, Camillo expressed concern about the grass underneath the rink once the temporary structure is removed in January.
"It could cause a little bit of an issue," Camillo said, "even though it's wintertime."
Dostmann said the entire lawn area would have a proper sub-floor on it. He also noted the park would be returned "in mint condition or better" once the rink was removed and any necessary re-seeding would be taken care of.
Selectwoman Jill Oberlander said the idea was "fantastic" and commended Dostmann for his enthusiasm.
"I want to applaud Sebastian," Oberlander said, "and thank him for bringing his ideas forward...thank you for all your work, both on the lights and this idea, and hopefully going forward."
Town Attorney Vincent Marino noted approvals from other town departments were needed before the rink could be established and said he would speak with Siciliano later in the day to iron out those details.
"One thing I don't like to do is have legal undermine initiatives like these," Marino said, "but there are processes that we need to be sensitive to."
He also said the law department would work "as quickly as needed" to help the proposal, which he said sounded "wonderful," move forward.
The board did not approve the project during the meeting but expected to speak further about it Friday and, hopefully, during a special board meeting later in the month.
"We're definitely on a time crunch," Dostmann said, "so I appreciate your willingness to look at this sooner rather than later."
Camillo said the project was "exciting" and thought it would be "a very worthwhile endeavor" for Greenwich.
Speaking after meeting, Dostmann said the board's reaction to the proposed project seemed positive overall.
"We'll go through the ringer and see if it's something we can get off the ground," Dostmann said.