Town Nixes Plans for Outdoor Skating Rink at Greenwich Common, Citing Health Concerns

In his Friday evening “Community Connections” email to residents on Nov 13, First Selectman Fred Camillo gave an update on what he described as “an alarming increase in the number of residents who have tested positive for the COVID-19 virus.”

Camillo urged residents to abide by Governor Lamont’s Executive Orders.

He said the rates of positive cases of Covid-19 are increasing at higher rates than last spring.

As of Friday, he shared numbers from Greenwich Health Dept director Caroline Baisley. A total of 1,312 residents had been diagnosed with with Covid-19, an increase of 106 a week earlier, and 106 active cases being monitored. Of the 106 cases, 25 were in the 21 – 30 age bracket and 20 were in the 31 – 40 age bracket.

As of Thursday, the State’s Covid-19 Alert Map indicated that Greenwich was one of the 100 cities and towns in Connecticut that are in the “Red Alert Level” – the highest of the state’s four alert levels. Code red indicates an average daily rate of 15 or more cases per 100,000.

Camillo urged residents to socially distance, wear masks and refrain from congregating in large groups, especially given students coming home from college for Thanksgiving.

Greenwich Common, next to the Havemeyer building at 290 Greenwich Ave.

Gatherings both indoors and outdoors are limited to 10, per Governor Lamont’s roll back to Phase 2 modified (2.1 rules).

Camillo said that given the spike in Covid cases, and potential health risks, planning for a temporary outdoor skating rink in Greenwich Common had been halted.

The rink was proposed on Thursday to the Board of Selectmen by Sebastian Dostmann on behalf of the Greenwich Community Projects Fund.

Hamill Rink. File photo

The town’s Dorothy Hamill Rink in Byram is open on a limited basis, including for public sessions, private rentals and group skating lessons.

Only one spectator per skater is allowed.

The water fountain is not available. Residents are advised to bring their own water bottle.

The concession stand, run by Kevin Allmashy of Executive Deli, is open. Allmashy has also run the concession at Byram Park for the past couple summers.

“The number of skaters will be limited to ensure we do not exceed a maximum # of skaters on the ice at any one time and to permit social distancing on the ice.” – Hamill Rink Skating Rules

Thought Greenwich has a history of outdoor skating, including at Binney Pond and in Bruce Park, Greenwich does no allow skating or walking on its frozen ponds and rivers.

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Mianus River. File photo.

Still, skaters are drawn to Pomerance Pond and Mianus Pond, which was previously under the auspices of the State, but is now owned by the Town and assumes liability.

The last time there was money in the Parks & Rec budget for monitoring, measuring and cleaning the ice was in 2005. And while the budget was just $7,500 the weather is irregular and not always cold enough for skating.

Ironically Hamill rink was originally an outdoor rink.

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Dorothy Hamill started out as an open air rink. Then a roof was added. Finally, the rink was enclosed.
Skating on Binney Pond in an unated photo: Daria Berizzi (left) and Gretchen Plowden Metzroth (Right). Contributed Photo, Gretchen Metzroth
Skating on Pomerance Pond, Jan 1, 2018
Skating on Pomerance Pond, Jan 1, 2018

See also:

Temporary Outdoor Ice Rink Proposed for Greenwich Common

Nov 12, 2020