AUBURN, Mass. – Town of Auburn officials gave a final pitch Monday night for an outside ice skating rink at Pakachoag Village, hoping that Auburn Housing Authority members approve its construction this week.
Town Manager Julie Jacobson spoke at the Board of Selectmen’s Monday meeting, saying an outside skating rink next to the Senior Center and elderly housing would be a great way to bring the community together.
“We thought it would be an opportunity for some intergenerational programs with our Senior Center and the youth of our community,” Jacobson said. “There are seniors who like to skate, and seniors with grandkids who like to skate.
“In the past, our outside rinks haven’t been that visible to the public, so it wasn’t attracting many people,” she added. “But we were hoping this area would be more visible and be where the seniors could actually sit and watch at the gazebo. We’re hoping for a positive vote on Wednesday.”
The Housing Authority owns the land at Pakachoag Village, which is why the town needs the authority’s approval at its Wednesday meeting at 4:30 p.m. Last week, the Housing Authority expressed several concerns over building it next to elderly housing, saying safety could be compromised for the residents.
Housing Authority Executive Director Lori Brennan said she’ll survey the residents of Pakachoag Village to see whether they would be OK with an ice skating rink adjacent to their homes.
Wayne Page, a town resident and chairman of the Council on Aging, said several senior citizens have been in favor of the skating rink.
“This would be a little skating arena for the residents, grandparents and kids, and it would be great for the community. I know I would go up there with my grandkid,” Page said. “I would welcome anyone in town to go to the meeting on Wednesday across from St. Joseph’s Church.” The meeting takes place at 200 Oxford St. N.
Selectman Steve Simonian criticized “the manner” in which the Housing Authority has dealt with this situation.
“It’s been over 20 years that the Town of Auburn, at expense to the taxpayers, has maintained that land, and the Housing Authority never had any issues with liability,” he said. “Until the town wanted to use it for something, no one said a word. Where were they with liability issues with our equipment, our people? That’s what I have a problem with.”
Last week, Department of Public Works Director Bill Coyle assured Housing Authority members that their safety concerns would not be problems, and the town would indemnify the Housing Authority against any losses.
Selectmen Chair Doreen Goodrich emphasized that the Board of Selectmen is a separate elected board from the Housing Authority. If residents have concerns, they should contact the Housing Authority at 508-832-3852.