Frequently Asked Questions – And Answers
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How do I vote YES for the Community Rink?
- The election is Tuesday, April 4, 7am-8pm.
- NOTE: Question #1 is on the TOP RIGHT side of the ballot. It is easy to miss.
Why are we voting on the rink again?
- Immediately following the November vote, we discovered that the rink could not create ice.
- A subsequent investigation determined that a part of the refrigeration system, a condenser, was leaking refrigerant and could not be fixed. The refrigeration system will not be able to create ice next season without a significant investment, which would need to be followed by additional significant investments. Because of the condition of the rink, investing in the existing rink is unsupportable.
- The Select Board decided that the question of whether or not to have a rink was a decision that impacted a large portion of the town, and residents should have the opportunity to make that decision.
- On February 6, the Select Board voted to put a debt exclusion on the ballot for a revised proposal, called the Belmont Rink and Sports Facility to provide a more accurate description of the use of the facility.
- The new proposal is the result of three months of work by the Building Committee to revisit the design and reduce the cost of the project. The project does not compromise the original program for the building, but it more clearly identifies the multiple uses of the facility.
- The Select Board is confident that the revised project is a good plan that should be given to voters for their decision.
What happens if the vote passes?
- If the vote passes and Town Meeting approves the borrowing and appropriates the funds, the Building Committee will move forward with the construction project.
What happens if the vote fails?
- If the vote fails, there will be no funding to replace the existing rink. The rink cannot make ice unless there is substantial investment. The members of the Select Board have indicated that they cannot support a substantial investment in the rink given the condition of the facility.
- There are several ways in which the community will be impacted if the town does not have a rink:
- The Recreation Department will not be able to offer skating programs, including skating lessons and open skating.
- The School Department and School Committee would need to investigate and budget for rental of ice time in other rinks for the high school hockey programs if those programs are to continue.
- Other programs that currently rent the rink, including Belmont Youth Hockey, would need to look elsewhere to support their programs.
- The existing rink building will need to be demolished when it is no longer in use or it becomes a liability for the town. This is a substantial project that would include handling of hazardous materials. This project is not funded.
How much will the project cost?
- The project cost is $29.9 million, which was reduced by 10% since November.
- Details about the design changes and cost reductions are in the next section on Design.
How much will it cost per household?
- The cost per household is $170/year for a property with an assessed value of $1 million.
Will it be offset by fundraising?
- $1.3 million in private funds have been raised for the project, which will offset the cost to the taxpayer.
- Therefore, the net cost of the project, or $28.6 million, was used to calculate the expected bonding and cost per household.
- The fundraising team also has several corporate donors who are interested in investing in the project once it is approved.
How long will the debt exclusion last?
- The town will issue 30-year bonds for the project, and the debt exclusion tax increase will expire when the bonds are paid off.
What has been done since November?
- The facility has been redesigned to support all of the core functionality more efficiently with a 10% cost reduction.
- The redesign has not compromised the “program” of the facility.
What is the Community Rink and Sports Facility?
The project is designed to be a 12 month facility – which will provide 7.5 additional months of programming compared to the old rink.
It is designed as a “no frills” rink that provides all of the core featurse by being flexible and multi-purpose.
Specifically, the project includes:
- A regulation size rink – 17,000 square feet – that can be used “with ice” in some seasons and “without ice” in others.
- Bleacher seating
- Four team locker rooms with lockers for storing large gear (hockey, football, etc.) accessible from the rink and fields.
- Four dressing rooms (that can be reconfigured as two larger dressing rooms) to be used for visiting teams, sports that do not require large gear, youth sports, and skating programs.
- Storage for golf and ski team equipment and other programmatic equipment.
- A lobby area that will serve attendees at events in the rink and on the fields:
- Public bathrooms
- Skate rentals to facilitate increased public participation in skating programs, but there will not be a public skate sharpening service
- An entrance desk where memberships, fees, and tickets can be sold or collected/checked
- A warm lobby where spectators can go to warm up and families can wait for their children while they change out their gear
- A small concession stand serving basic snack food and warm drinks; this is not a full kitchen
It is designed to allow key features to be accessible from the outside when the rest of the rink is closed. This includes locker and dressing rooms, bathrooms, concessions, and storage.
It is designed for sustainability – 100% electric, no fossil fuels, energy-efficient, and with solar panels.
How was the cost reduced by 10%?
The cost of the project was reduced 10% since November without compromising required programming through design changes and revision of scope of the project.
A significant portion of the cost reduction resulted from the change to new construction instead of trying to preserve the “bents” (structural beams).
- The slant of the bents created unusable space at the bottom of the structure that added square footage which could not be used for any of the functions of the building. Removing the bents resulted in a significant reduction in the size of the building.
- Removing the bents also allowed a simpler, rectangular building that could hold all core functions in one structure instead of requiring several additional structures, roofs, insulation, etc.
- The bents required expensive remediation of significant rust and lead paint, which became unnecessary with new construction.
Several changes to the design and layout helped reduce the cost of the project.
- The lobby/gathering space was reduced in size and there is no longer a viewing mezzanine.
- More detailed plans for solar panels were developed.
- Based on the new, more rectangular layout, the locker, dressing, and storage rooms were designed as flexible, reconfigurable spaces that could maximize support for many different BHS teams, Recreation Department programs, and Belmont Youth Hockey.
A more detailed plan for the solar array resulted in a better more informed set of estimates in the project cost.
The project no longer includes parking modications in the jug handle; however, the facility benefits from the proximity of the new high school parking.
Is it designed for sustainability?
- A preliminary estimate for the solar design includes 436.8 kWdc; 400.0 kWac; 526,070 kWhr/year; with a total system cost of $1,092,000, assuming $2.50/Wdc.
- Under the Federal Inflation Recovery Act, municipal projects now qualify for an Investment Tax Credit direct payment of ~26.5% of the total system cost, or ~$289,380. This must be vetted by town officials and lawyers.
- The new building is designed for sustainability, which includes a modern, energy-efficient refrigeration system and a sealed and well-insulated building envelope.
- In the winter, regenerative heat from the refrigeration system will be used to warm building.
What is happening with the White Field House? Fields? Parking?
- The Select Board will lead the planning for demolition of the White Field House, parking, and field design.
- Options for demolition of the White Field House are currently under investigation.
- The design for the fields west of the rink was deferred until that project is funded.
- The current project will include very limited changes to the current parking, namely the addition of two handicapped spaces and a bus pullout to allow the safe loading and unloading of students.
- The new facility does benefit from the proximity of parking at the new high school, compared to the very remote parking lot at the old school.
- On the other hand, the November proposal included modifications to the existing “jug handle,” but did not include any new parking lots.
How many people will use the facility?
- More than 5,000 Belmont residents are estimated to use the facility each year.
- The facility is designed to be able to serve the entire Belmont community with a wide array of programming both “with ice” and “without ice.”
- The facility also provides services for players and attendees at practices and events on Harris Field and the nearby fields.
How will decisions be made regarding use of the facility?
- Programming plans for the facility will be developed WITH INPUT FROM THE COMMUNITY through a 9–12-month, iterative community input process to establish priorities and guidelines.
- The Select Board is responsible for creating a management and programming plan for the new facility, working with the Town Administrator, Recreation Commission, and Recreation Department.
- The Building Committee is responsible for designing and constructing the building and does not play a role in operations.
What are the possibilities for use of the facility?
- The facility is designed to operate for 12 months/year, which allows for 7.5 additional months of programming. This creates many more hours for different types of programming that allow many more people to participate.
- The facility is designed for flexibility and will support activities both with ice and without ice, as well as activities on Harris Track and Field and the other nearby fields.
- Activities with ice could include skating lessons, open skating, figure skating, hockey, special needs programs, community skating events, and more.
- Activities without ice could include summer camps, pickleball, exercise classes, special events, and many other sports and recreation programs.
- The facility will replace the locker rooms used by football and hockey teams that are currently housed in the White Field House. (The White Field House will be demolished.) In addition, the new facility is designed to support additional teams on Harris Field and the nearby fields.
- The facility will serve spectators on Harris Field and nearby fields by providing bathrooms and concessions during BHS and youth sports games and practices, as well as community events like Soccer Night and the Apple or Becca Pizzi 5K Runs.
Will we rent the facility to other organizations?
- Belmont has always rented ice time to organizations including Belmont Youth Hockey, Valley Hockey League (to host games), and Belmont Hill School (during hours when our students are in class).
- Defining the balance of time allocated for rentals, Belmont High School teams, and Recreation programs will be determined through the Community Input process described above.
Who will make decisions about operations?
- If the facility is approved by voters, the Select Board, working with the Town Administrator, Recreation Commission, and Recreation Department, will be responsible for the policies and decisions for the operations of the facility.
How will the facility be managed?
- The facility can be managed in one of two ways: either hiring a management company to run the facility or hiring staff to manage it internally.
- If the facility is approved by voters, the Select Board, working with the Town Administrator, will be responsible for developing a plan for managing the facility.
Will the facility break even? How much will it cost to run the facility?
- Revenue and expenses for the facility are dependent on the management and programming models that are chosen.
- After the election, a community input process will begin that establishes priorities for use of the facility.
- Currently, there are two sources of revenue from the rink: rentals to Belmont Youth Hockey, Valley Hockey League, and the Belmont Hill School; and participation fees for Recreation programs.
- With the new facility, which will operate for 12 months/year, there will be more opportunity for programming and more revenue generated.
- Operating cost is minimized by the design of a sealed and well-insulated building, installation of efficient modern systems; and the use of solar panels.
THE OLD RINK
What is the status of the old rink?
- The old rink closed permanently on March 18 because it cannot make ice.
- SEE IT FOR YOURSELF — Watch this 4-minute video to learn more about the condition of the old rink. (The video is best viewed in full-screen mode.)
- Or look through the photos and explanations in the picture gallery.
Our Mailing Address
30 Bow Road
Belmont, MA 02478