By EAST AURORA EDITOR (9/2/2008 7:04:05 AM)
After months, actually years of hard work by local residents trying to make the dream of creating a venue for local East Aurora youth a reality, the time has finally arrived.
The Aurora Ice Association has obtained possession of the actual rink that was used for the Winter Classic event held at Ralph Wilson Stadium on January 1st, 2008 between the Buffalo Sabres and the Pittsburgh Penguins. Specifically, they have purchased the same tubing that was used for the game and are looking at other items to purchase through the same vendor including the chiller, dasherboards, glass and zamboni.
This will be an outdoor single sheet rink that will be used while the future plan of a twin rink continues to go through the SEQR process. There will be no spectator seating which will come as good news to local merchants currently struggling with Main Street reconstruction and a general lull in the economy.
The group already has a plan for scheduling time at the rink. It will include several hours of open skating, skate and shoot sessions and practice for local hockey teams including the East Aurora High School Varsity and JV teams.
We spoke with AIA President Tony DiFilippo earlier today. "We will continue to move forward with the village and community to try and get approval for our initial plan for the location, but this was a great opportunity to allow the youth here in East Aurora to begin utilizing the land for a positive purpose right away. This is what we have been about since day one."
The group plans to begin ground breaking at the site this week and they have a ambitious plan for opening the rink for skating on November 1st.
A spokesperson for the AIA said that they will not have to go through another formal approval process for this plan since it is private property and meets all code requirements for the land. "Attorney Bob Pierce drafted a letter that basically said that since none of this is permanent we do not need village board approval." Of course the AIA will still need to go through the process for their initial plan for a two rink facility.
This all began when Tony spoke to John Cipperman (board member for the AIA) about the possibility of obtaining the Ice Bowl as a seasonal temporary rink. After looking into the idea it seemed like a win win situation for all involved.
DiFilippo said that he does not know how long the rink will be up however it will be used at least this year from November through March.
DiFilippo was also confident that this would help local Main Street merchants. When parents drop off their kids for practice there is no seating so either they can wait in their car or sit in a warm cafe, or even shop in one of the many locally owned stores.
As for parking, the remaining part of property will be available for parking and should have about 50 or 60 spots available.
"This will be Old time hockey," said DiFilippo.
No word yet from the Residents for Rink Relocation. They have argued that the venue is too small to support a twin rink. Since this is a single outdoor rink it will be interesting to see what objections they have.
There is a village work session tonight at 7PM at village hall where they will continue to discuss the SEQR process for the permanent facility that is still on the table.
For those interested, the AIA is selling raffle tickets for a "Sabres Dream Trip" (flight with the Sabres to an away game, hotel, and game tickets). Tickets are $5.00 and they will draw the winner at the D.A.R.E / Aurora Ice Golf Outing next Monday, September 8th. If you would like to get a ticket you can contact firstname.lastname@example.org or one of the board members. Contact information can be found here.
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