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Falmouth council OKs hockey rink, Town Hall improvements

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Falmouth council OKs hockey rink, Town Hall improvements

FALMOUTH — Hat Trick Drive scored its third skating facility on May 28, when the Town Council unanimously approved Casco Bay Hockey Association's plan to build a $1.3 million open-air, pavilion-style hockey rink.

The rink will be built on the site of a defunct, town-owned outdoor rink and adjacent to Falmouth Family Ice's indoor and outdoor facilities.

Councilors also voted to begin a second phase of renovations at Town Hall, and bid farewell to the council's most senior member, Chairwoman Teresa Pierce.

Casco Bay Arena will be constructed over the summer and open to skating in the fall, in time for the next hockey season, according to association President John Veilleux. The seasonal rink will feature a refrigerated base to maintain the ice through temperature fluctuations – much like the adjacent skating pond – serving skaters from November through late March.

Casco Bay Hockey is a Portland-based youth hockey organization with more than 800 players and 150 volunteer coaches. The association hopes its new arena will help grow its membership by 150 or more players, and provide the teams ice time that isn't during early hours on weekends or late nights on weekdays.

Approval hinged on zoning changes and a lease agreement to build on the town-owned land. Much of the discussion centered around the potential for noise and lengthy hours of operation to disturb abutting homes.

In the end, councilors voted 6-0 for the zoning changes and the lease, which includes some free ice time for the town. In the warmer months, the pavilion could be rented to the town for events, at 50 percent of the market rate.

The rink will be slightly larger than the one it will replace, and a little farther south to avoid disrupting wetlands.

A modular-style warming hut will be demolished to make room for the new rink's facade, which will include four locker rooms, two restrooms and a viewing area for spectators.

The rest of the facility will be open to the elements, with the exception of a pavilion-style roof.

The hockey association first pitched its plan to the Town Council in late January.

Town Hall renovations

The council unanimously approved a $45,000 expenditure to develop plans for a second phase of Town Hall renovations.

The work, which includes improved insulation, repairs to roofing and siding, and reconfiguration of some offices and departments, could cost as much as $550,000.

Pierce said the town was fortunate to have some money saved in the unassigned fund balance to pay for the design, adding that the council has an "obligation to bring this building up to snuff."

In April, the council unanimously approved a $350,000 project to address air quality problems in Town Hall, which Town Manager Nathan Poore said has been successful.

About $1 million in renovation projects were identified last year.

Farewell to the chairwoman

With the June 10 election looming, Pierce's final term on the Town Council came to an end at the May 28 meeting.

Councilor Chris Orestis, who if re-elected will become the most senior member of the council, offered a farewell speech, saying Pierce led the council with distinction.

"You bring tremendous practicality and an emphasis on collaboration," he said.

Pierce, who is running for the state Legislature in House District 44, said "it's been nothing but a pleasure to serve the council and the people of Falmouth."

Councilor Karen Farber was absent.

Ben McCanna can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 125 or bmccanna@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @BenMcCanna.