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Town Common Skating Rink on Ice!

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.

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.

Tom Boussy

Stoneham Board of
Selectman

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Mark January 09, 2013 at 02:56 PM
Tom, You need to answer a few questions. Who is this "small vocal group" of which you mention? Why did they have a vote in this process (if there was a process) and the Towns registered voters/taxpayers have not? What are the "three annual events" of which you mention and how and why were they approved and the rink is not? Where are the rest of the Selectmen on this issue? Bob? Frank? John? and Richard? How about some answers!
Roy Prescott Stone January 09, 2013 at 03:05 PM
The vitality of a town,can be measured by its' playgrounds.
Witold Witkowski January 09, 2013 at 03:06 PM
Agreed. We need to know more details of this. I tried to look through the minutes of the last meeting (http://www.ci.stoneham.ma.us/Pages/StonehamMA_SelectMin/2012/Minutes%2012%2011%2013.pdf), and it seems that it was unanimously voted for? Mark, I agree, we need to hear directly from the elected officials.
BookOasis January 09, 2013 at 04:40 PM
If the common can't be used year round for enjoyment of all kinds what is the point of setting aside such valuable land to be used just 3 times a year? They may as well hold town events at the senior center, high school or the zoo and put much needed New England-style retail spaces back on Main Street. Yes, I realize there are many undeveloped, awful looking holes on our Main St already, but that is another issue altogether.
Stephen Rotondi January 09, 2013 at 05:10 PM
Great idea. The present day High School Carnival Ball started back in the 1920' as the culmination of a week long town wide Winter Carnival involving winter time activities and competitions in skating, sledding , etc.
Tara January 09, 2013 at 05:58 PM
" 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. " - that is the DUMBEST thing I have ever read!! That was so generous of Mr. Celli and seems like all the details were going to be worked out. As a tax paying resident that grew up here I demand to hear directly from the elected officials. Love the Carnival Ball Theme. I also remember Town Day - years ago the SHS Classes would make floats for the parade when did that stop? SKATING RINK, SKATING RINK, SKATING RINK!!!
Ann January 09, 2013 at 06:38 PM
Who in their right mind came up with this opposition? EVEN in the unlikely event of another resident coming up with an idea that they could afford to sponser - what would be wrong with it - if it were for the good of the town? The enjoyment of the residents? Why can't an issue like this be put to a vote by the town residents? Most of all PLEASE let us know which of the selectmen voted against it - so we can keep it in mind for the next elections.
Tara January 09, 2013 at 07:23 PM
You know where we should try to get it put in is the field next to the small playground across from the zoo. Plenty of parking there and over at the zoo too. I’m sure the zoo would love it because it would bring more people there during the winter months
Meeh January 09, 2013 at 09:48 PM
I love the ideas but hate the decisions. I hope one day our townsman/women gets it right, not only for businesses,but for the children and family.
SMAC January 09, 2013 at 10:33 PM
Agree completely! Stoneham needs to add some life, some things for kids to do! While we are at it, how about adding some new restaurants and stores as well. Tired of seeing things go up all around us..Reading, Wakefield, and everywhere..and still empty spaces in Stoneham!
Witold Witkowski January 09, 2013 at 10:40 PM
I sincerely hope that the town officials are paying attention to this thread. This has obviously touched a nerve. I'm very happy that Stoneham has an active and engaged online community, and I similarly hope that this community can be leveraged into making Stoneham a more vibrant place. For what its worth, there is a Selectmen meeting on the 28th. I assume that it is an open to the public meeting? Would any other commenters/contributors be interesting in attending?
Ann January 10, 2013 at 12:17 AM
Yes we all need to attend and bring a friend who will bring a friend and so on and so on. It is so important to become involved. Maybe if there were more of us that are concerned - we might be able to change the way things are done here - or at the very least show our younger children that they need to be involved as they grow up so that they can try changing things. We need to be good influences on our children so they in turn can pass the knowledge on to their children and so on.
Patricia Walsh January 10, 2013 at 12:41 AM
I am so thrilled to see so many Stoneham Taxpayers engaging in discussion about postive changes to the stagnation of this town. I have supported Tom Boussy since the moment he pulled his papers to run for Selectman and he and Craig Celli should be supported in their efforts to get the skating rink idea (among others) approved. I think this issue needs more press!
Witold Witkowski January 10, 2013 at 01:09 AM
Great! I hope to get to meet you and others there.
Julie Boussy January 10, 2013 at 02:43 AM
I had a thought today while driving through Chelsea to run an errand. Why is it in Chelsea I could grab lunch at Panera Bread, get a coffee at Starbucks and grab something at the brand new Market Basket ( sound like any other towns around us)? When I first moved to Stoneham 20 yrs ago I was at town meeting and I heard the comment from a former selectman that we can't increase Stoneham's bar seating because bars would pop up on every corner and we don't want what Chelsea has. I wouldn't mind if anyone of those rented space in the Redstone. It is amazing Redstone can't get renters but the developers that own Redstone are the same people building the new outdoor shopping center just two miles up the road in Lynnfield off 128. I am also excited about the new Whole Foods going into the former Johnny’s site, to bad Stoneham didn’t have a vacant supermarket space with a great parking lot. I am all for maintaining local business, and the character of the town but maybe we should concentrate on what is good for Stoneham’s future and not about giving tax abatements to the developers of unrented properties. Stoneham needs a plan, and starting with an ice rink was a good one!
Tom Boussy January 10, 2013 at 04:03 AM
Wow, you guys have been busy, Let me first say that I’m thrilled that so many people care so passionately about our town. When I announced that I wanted to run for Selectman one of my key goals was to “get Stoneham residents more actively involved in civic participation” This is a very good sign, I would love to see you all at the next Selectman’s meeting (I have January 22 as the date). I’m doing this because I want so much more from the town that I chose to settle down in, raise my family, and that I have called home for the last 22 years (it only seems like 20 to my wife). I do need your help though, The Selectman will do what you want them to do, and they just need to know what that something is. Show up January 22 and tell us what you want from us, if you want a Common Committee represented by Stoneham resident then Show up and demand it. If nobody shows up then we can expect more of the same. I honestly thought up until December that the rink was going to happen this year. I think the selectman supported the idea, but we started discussion in August and then in December we ran out of time and that to me is unacceptable. Letters were written and phone call were made from people in this town that feel that the common shouldn’t be used be used for anything. I’ve actually heard a comment one time that if we allow these types of events on the common this place will look like a damn carnival.
Tara January 10, 2013 at 01:10 PM
I will plan on attending the 22nd at January to the town meeting can you please just let us know the time.
Meeh January 10, 2013 at 05:39 PM
These folks who stated that the common would look like a "Damn Carnival" have know clue. (where are they? there is not one comment on here that suggest any disapproval) I for one would rather have a lively carnival with local residents or even others from surrounding towns (inducing town envy) enjoying the scene with their families and hopefully that would generate interest in Stoneham rather than a dead ghost town that has a miserable vibe.
Mark January 10, 2013 at 06:04 PM
Selectmen Meeting Minutes Aug 28, 2012 Public Skating Rink on Town Common/Selectman Boussy Town Administrator Ragucci said Selectman Boussy mentioned to him about a skating rink on the Common in January and about a carnival. Mr Ragucci asked Bob Grover for figures. Mr Ragucci said the cost is $5,200 for the rink and removing electric fixtures and replacing sod. He said he doesn’t know how it will be maintained and get water, as antifreeze is put in the hydrants. He said our guys will do it. Chairman Vallarelli said then the Town is picking up the cost. He said he thought a business would do it. Selectman DePinto said he would like to pursue it. He said he will work with Selectman Boussy. It was placed on the 9/25 agenda.
Mark January 10, 2013 at 06:06 PM
Selectmen Meeting Minutes (Cont.) Sept 11, 2012 Town Administrator Report Mr Ragucci said, he discussed the ice rink with the chamber and they are meeting to see if they want to take that project on. Town Administrator David Ragucci reached out to the Chamber of Commerce. They are interested in sponsoring, building and maintenance of the skating rink. Selectman Sweeney states he feels everyone has good intention but who is going to be responsible. Chairman Vallarelli makes motion for Town Administrator to discuss details with the chamber and return to the Board of Selectmen on December 11, 2012. Motion was seconded by Selectman Gregorio. Motion was unanimously voted (5-0). Dec 11, 2012 Town Administrator Ragucci has had a number of discussions with the Chamber of Commerce on the skating rink and we have not been able to come up with a plan that would work for everyone involved. They would like to have a better plan in place and try again for next year.
Mark January 10, 2013 at 06:18 PM
From the Selectmen's Minutes it sounds like everyone was on board with the rink. At no time did any of you mention you needed the people of this Towns support for the project. From everything I've read from your minutes and heard from others in Town, this was a done deal. If you needed our support you should've asked. Tom, I'll ask again! Who is this "small vocal group" of which you mention? Why did they have a vote in this process (if there was a process) and the Towns registered voters/taxpayers did not?
Tom Boussy January 11, 2013 at 12:50 AM
Mark The minutes are correct, you can also go to Stoneham TV and see the last 13 the Selectman’s meetings On Demand. I didn’t reach out on the patch for support because I really believed that the rink was going to happen this year. I had enough support to maintain the rink and I didn’t think this was going to be a big deal. I don’t want to speak for the other Selectman, you can ask them directly. I can tell you what I think their opinion was based on what they said at meetings. John was overwhelmingly in favor and provided support. Rich really liked Winter Carnival and I believe he liked the common as a location. Frank at first was concerned that if we have another mild winter this would be egg on our face, but he also was in favor of winter carnival and I think he thought it was a good idea at the common. Bob wanted Winter Carnival but preferred to have it at the Stoneham Arena.
Tom Boussy January 11, 2013 at 12:51 AM
The Chamber of Commerce is the savior in this one. I have talked to them and they are very enthusiastic about this event next year but by the time the idea went to the Chamber it was getting close to Thanksgiving and with the holidays and the meeting schedule between the two boards (Selectman & Chamber) that put us into December and they could not possibly have put this together in time for a successful event in January. I have to take some of the blame, I was naïve, I thought the rink was done and wasn’t as concerned about it as I was trying to figure out how to put together a Winter Carnival. In hindsight we should have taken a vote in October to build the rink in January and the vote could have been 5-0 or 3-2 I don’t know, but we should have taken a position and let the chips fall where they may on the results
Tom Boussy January 11, 2013 at 12:51 AM
The main issue that I ran on last year was” Smart Growth Redevelopment of Downtown Stoneham” That why this project means so much to me. As far as the vocal minority, I honestly don’t know who these people are, I got a letter from a gentleman that I guess was a selectman years ago and his opinion was that under no circumstances should the common be used for anything other the green space. I don’t even remember his name, I recycled the letter. I got ears on the ground too and I find out second and third hand about certain people that complained about the idea. I didn’t hear it from them for the same reason that they haven’t shown up on this blog. By the way the Selectman’s meetings are always open to the public they are on usually scheduled for about every other Tuesday nights at 7:00 you can find the schedule on the town website just click Board of Selectman then Selectmen’s meeting schedule 2013 you can also find the minutes for any past meeting that have been approved.
Mark January 11, 2013 at 01:55 PM
Tom, Thank You for your response and service to the town! Your transparency is applauded! The Ice Rink is an excellent idea. If you or other Selectmen need help on an issue, letters, phone calls or attendance at meetings, please make it known. Too many times things are done behind closed doors or dragged out until people lose interest. Make your position known (Patch, Facebook, Twitter, Newspapers, TV, Youth Groups, Church's and Schools) and that you need help, and if the good people of Stoneham think its a good idea, they'll show up. Tell the Secretary to post the minutes to the Patch. Selectmen/Finance/School Committee's/Voters, can then add their pro's or con's to an idea and/or commentary. If The Selectmen are going to vote yea or nea on the Ice Rink for next year, at the Jan 22 meeting, and you feel you need help to persuade any dissenters, we'll show up.
Tom Boussy January 11, 2013 at 09:42 PM
Thanks Mark I appreciate you kind words and thanks to everyone for your support and for caring about our town. I do have a Facebook page Stoneham Selectman Tom Boussy I have a personal one as well. My website is still under construction but you can visit it at Tomboussy.com I just created a twitter account I think is @tomboussy and you can always call me 781-832-0098 (it’s a Google voice I’m not totally crazy but it will ring on my cell) and email at tboussy@ci.stoneham.ma.us
jared January 12, 2013 at 03:18 AM
What is the matter. Do the cronies fear that $$$$$ will be taken away from the weekly Wii bowling tournaments? This town is so geared in the opposite direction. I moved here to start a family. I would never recommend this town to anyone who has a family with children or is not retired. We have interests too. Think once of the younger generation. I am sure your parents did.
Jeremy January 14, 2013 at 04:33 PM
I fully support the idea of an ice rink in town center. My wife and I moved here 5 years ago because of proximity to Boston and have found that there is lack of community in town. We assumed this was because we didn't have children in local schools but it does seem like it somewhat by design. Stoneham has a lot of unique offerings (how many other towns have a theatre?) but seems to be ruled by a limited point of view. we'd certainly support new thinking and new ideas
Patricia Walsh January 17, 2013 at 01:44 PM
Jeremy, my husband and I moved our family to Stoneham 28 years ago because of the close proximity to Boston, the terrific school system and Redstone Shopping Center and our son has even settled here to raise his family because of the fond memories of his childhood. In the past 28 years I have witnessed merchants moving out of Redstone and the management company having no visible desire to actively recruit new tenants. With all the empty storefronts at Redstone, I would like to know why the Board of Selectman recently gave approval to Redstone to construct a new building behind Marshalls when they cannot even fill the vacant buildings that they already have. There are two Selectman up for re-election this year and as an aging Stonehamite I would like to see the youth of this town begin to run for the upcoming vacancies. We need progress in this town and DePinto, Vallarelli and Sweeney care more about the Stoneham Arena and One Way Streets than they do about progress. I suggest that you, Jeremy, and some of your youthful neighbors entertain the idea of becoming the new voices of this town - you would certainly have my vote - that's why I backed Tom Boussy - this town needs new blood!!
Witold Witkowski January 17, 2013 at 02:14 PM
Patricia, As a new Stonehamite, and youngish (30) citizen, I'd also like to see the needs and views of the younger generation be fairly represented in our Selectmen board. I do realize that we (as a generation) still have a lot to learn, on the other hand, we also have a lot to contribute.

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