AUBURN, Mass. – Town officials were hoping to get approval on Tuesday to construct an ice skating rink at Pakachoag Village next to the Senior Center, but the Auburn Housing Authority delayed a vote as members had concerns about it next to elderly housing.
Department of Public Works director Bill Coyle and Recreation and Culture director Kristen Pappas advocated for the ice skating rink, which would be perfect for kindergartners through fourth-graders, they said.
“It would be geared for young children, and we would look to have skating lessons and programs. We’re hoping it would be something that would be beneficial for everybody,” Coyle said. “And being adjacent to the Senior Center, it would benefit the seniors who could watch their grandchildren out there having fun.
“There’d be a fence for the rink, so there wouldn’t be a safety issue for seniors,” Coyle added. “Traffic in the area would be negligible because we wouldn’t expect hundreds of people to go to the rink. The town would be monitoring the rink.”
The rink wouldn’t be used for hockey games because it wouldn’t be large enough, Pappas said.
“The size of this rink is not conducive for a person with long legs. Your high school students are not going to be interested in this,” Pappas said. “This is for kids who want to learn to skate with their parents. Maybe mom and dad don’t have a ton of money to take their kids to Horgan [Arena].
“My job is to bring the community together and offer events and programs at a low cost, and that’s especially important in this economy,” she added.
However, the housing authority, which owns the land, did not give its approval.
“I don’t think it’d be in the best interest of the seniors who live there,” said Housing Authority member Roberta Briggs. “There could be increased traffic in the area, elderly individuals could wander onto the ice rink. Safety could be compromised for the residents.”
All the members, except for Ann Weston, had concerns about the skating rink.
But Coyle assured members that those concerns would not be problems, and the town would indemnify the housing authority in the event of any losses.
Members said they would need a week to think it over before voting on it.
“We haven’t had a lot of time to think about things,” Housing Authority Chair Betty Bacinskas said. “The town is itching to get going on this, but we need more time.”
Housing Authority Executive Director Lori Brennan said she’ll survey the residents of Pakachoag Village to see if they’d be OK with an ice skating rink adjacent to their homes.
“It’s only fair to ask residents and then make a decision,” Brennan said.
The committee will vote on the rink at 2:30 p.m. Dec. 12.