Put the double runners in mothballs for another year, once again, any use of the town common was melted this year by a small vocal group. They believe that the common should not be used for any purpose other than the three annual events. I believe that it belongs to the 20,000 plus people that live and pay taxes in this town and that they should have the opportunity to allow other annual events to utilize the common.
Let me give you the background of the skating rink. In August of this year, Stoneham resident Craig Celli proposed to the Board of Selectman, he would pay for the construction of an outdoor skating rink in the town common, including replacing any sod that may have been disturbed from the rink. I was thrilled with the offer as I have been saying for years that this would be a great thing for the town to do. The first opposition to the rink was if we allowed one resident to sponsor an event in the common, then the next week someone would want to sponsor NASCAR day at the common and so on.
I felt that that was a fair argument so I decided to push the rink as a three to four week long town sponsored event in January complete with a “Winter Carnival”. The reasons for the rink were many but mostly because it’s just fun. Winters are long and cold in Stoneham and this gives people a reason to get outside of the house and enjoy the cold weather while creating a sense of community. I also feel strongly that if we truly want to revitalize downtown Stoneham we need to show business that we will come out to support them, and what better way to show that then to have the center of town full of people standing outside congregating in the coldest month of the year
I thought that this was going to be a done deal, all we needed to do was work out the details. The first legitimate problem was the manpower to maintain the rink. To overcome this I got commitments from many parents of Stoneham Youth Hockey, Soccer Parents and the High School Hockey Team to shovel and maintain it. I agreed to make sure that it was maintained properly.
In September and October I thought that we were moving towards a rink this winter, the response had been very positive. Planning “Winter Carnival” was going to be my next challenge. My idea was that one Saturday night in January we would invite all the local restaurants to set up booths and sell a small portion of their specialty dishes for a modest price, there would be live entertainment coming from our town, possibly a DJ, I was hoping that the High School Band could play, maybe the theater could squeeze in an ensemble, a local booster club would sell hot chocolate, parents would skate with their kids or mingle amongst the crowds.
There is some good news, The Chamber of Commerce loves the idea and would like to start planning the rink for next year. It is my understanding that they want to talk to some other towns that have outdoor rinks (there are many) and get input.
Do you think the common should be used as it is right now, or would you like to see Town Day in September and a Jack-O-Lantern Contest in October, The Christmas Tree Lighting in December, a Skating Rink in January, maybe a BBQ Contest in May and the return of the Farmers Market to name a few. Please let me hear your thoughts on the common and any suggestions.
Stoneham Board of