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May 15, 2013

Concerns surface over city's ice rink

Council to probe condition, preventive maintenance spending

HAVERHILL — Veteran’s Memorial Skating Rink is the latest city-owned property to go under the microscope amid claims it is in declining condition and that the city is hogging rental income rather than spending it to take care of the facility.

City Council President Robert Scatamacchia said he has received complaints that the facility is falling apart and that the city is not following the terms of its contract with the state to provide preventative maintenance.

The state handed control of the rink to the city more than two decades ago in an arrangement that requires Haverhill to spend at least 10 percent of rental income on maintenance. The facility, which charges $220 an hour for ice time, is on track to generate about $310,000 this year, officials said.

Scatamacchia said there are concerns about the rink’s ice-making machine and its ice-resurfacing machine. He also said the roof leaks in several places.

“The concern is the facility is in poor condition and that we’re not doing proper maintenance,” Scatamacchia said.

The council’s Administration and Finance Committee is meeting tonight at 7 p.m. at City Hall to listen to concerns and investigate the matter. Scatamacchia said he supports creating an independent commission, similar to the Stadium Commission, that would oversee the rink. The facility is at 229 Brook St. behind the high school.

Human Services Director Vincent Ouellette is in charge of the ice rink. He said the city is actually spending more on maintenance than required.

Ouellette said the facility is on track to generate about $310,000 in rental income this year and that $48,000 has already been spent on maintenance and repairs. The city spent $78,000 on the facility last year, $90,000 the year before and $101,000 three years ago, Ouellette said.

Some of that money was used to replace plexiglass and dasher boards that surround the rink and floor tiles in the lobby. Dressing rooms were also redone and a new fire alarm system was installed, Ouellette said. Repairs have also been made to the roof, he said.

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