At Thursday’s Board of Selectmen meeting Sebastian Dostmann, who many know from his company Sebass Events & Entertainment and his involvement in the Cos Cob Fire Police Patrol, pitched a temporary outdoor ice rink behind Greenwich Town Hall.
Mr. Dostmann, who spoke on behalf of the Greenwich Community Projects Fund, said the rink would offer families a chance to get outdoors during the pandemic and bring business to the merchants and restaurants on the Avenue.
The rink would be on the green in Greenwich Commons and be available to residents for free.
Dostmann said rink would be funded by Greenwich Community Projects Fund who is also the group behind the “Let There Be Lights Holiday Fund.” They are currently busy putting up lights in the trees along Greenwich Avenue in time for the dark days of winter.
Mr. Dostmann said residents who don’t have their own ice skates would be able rent them.
The rink would be open from Nov 27 through Jan 18, and be staffed during operating hours – roughly from 12:00 to 7:00pm during the week, and 10:00am to 7:00pm on weekends.
Dostmann said Parks & Rec Director Joe Siciliano had given him a list of department heads who would need to approve the proposal pending the Board of Selectmen’s approval.
“Obviously it is a last minute project, and hopefully it will bring some holiday cheer to the Avenue and drive some business to the merchants and restaurants,” Dostmann said.
Dostmann said Pepsi, who supports numerous local non profit organizations, had reached out to offer to sponsor the lights on Greenwich Avenue and were looking for ways to provide a safe and social outdoor environment.
“Fortunately, I had a great contact there who was willing to come up with an idea to drive business to the merchants who were struggling earlier in the year, as well as bring people together in a safe way for families to get out,” Dostmann added. “This is a donation from Pepsi to the Greenwich Community Projects Fund, and in turn, the Greenwich Community Projects fund would be executing this.”
Camillo said the town would be concerned about potential damage to the lawn.
Dostmann said the rink would be constructed atop a sub floor with guidance from the Town’s building department.
“We would return the park to the same condition or better,” he promised. “If that means reseeding or spot seeding or replacing sod in that area we would take care of that 100%.”
Mr. Siciliano said, “We would expect there would be 100% complete restoration. Let’s not forget on our end that (improvements to Greenwich Common) was a joint partnership between two private citizens and the Town …We wouldn’t want to bruise that relationship going forward.”
Siciliano said if the Board approved the proposal conceptually, and a license agreement was put in place, the restoration of the lawn would be very important.
“Both of those individual donors gave $125,000 each towards the park improvement and the Town was the third partner, and put in over $250,000,” Siciliano said. “We would not want to damage that relationship on the outcome.”
Dostmann said that promise would be put in writing and that he would work with the Town law department on the licensing agreement, and that restoration of the lawn would be a condition of the agreement.
Select person Jill Oberlander asked whether the project needed Planning & Zoning’s approval.
Town attorney Vincent Marino said he would discuss the proposal with Joe Siciliano, look into the town’s insurance and check what departments would have to approve the project.
“There are municipalities who have done this,” he said.
Mr. Siciliano said it would be possible to use his department’s “special event form,” but the rink would be more than a typical special event with a one or two-day approval.
Mr. Camillo asked whether the proposal could be added to the Nov 19 special meeting agenda.
Mr. Marino said there might be vehicular traffic concerns or pedestrian concerns that might be addressed by the P&Z commission.
“I think I can report back to you Mr. First Selectman within the next day or so,” Marino said.
Marino suggested putting the item on the special meeting agenda on Nov 19.
“You might want to spend your time creating a little outline,” Siciliano suggested. “Where it pertains to the building department, health dept, or police – I know you tried to canvas a bunch of them ahead of time, but when it comes to signing off on it, they’ll wan to see more detail.”
Selectwoman Lauren Rabin said committee members from Thin Greenwich / ReImagine Greenwich / Community Projects / Let There Be Lights could help move the project forward and were meeting on Friday.
Oberlander suggested Dostmann reach out to the town’s insurance broker to discuss special event coverage prior to the Nov 19 special meeting.