The nonprofit group trying to build an $8.6 million ice rink in East Aurora formally pitched its proposal to the village Monday, touting it as a multi-use rink that would serve the Southtowns and give an economic boost to local merchants.
"We really want to do it because we think it's the right thing to do," Michael Tehan, vice president of the Aurora Ice Association, told the Village Board before a standing-room-only crowd of 70 people.
Tehan, along with an engineer and transportation analyst, gave a nearly hourlong presentation on the project to the board, which today officially becomes lead agent overseeing the proposal. No public comment on the project was allowed after the presentation.
Aurora Ice Association backers lined the walls of the board room, many wearing stickers to show their support.
Tehan insisted the 68,000-square-foot rink with a three-story facade at Riley and Main streets has garnered "overwhelming support." But it also has drawn criticism from Residents for Rink Relocation, a vocal group of village residents who say they oppose the proposed location because they fear it will change the village's character forever. Members of that group also attended the meeting.
The association stressed that the project, consisting of two National Hockey League-sized rinks and 130 parking spots, would not infringe on village parking, nor would it cause traffic backups in the upper Main Street area.
Tehan said the project calls for the smaller-sized rinks rather than a larger, Olympic-sized rink and would have a peak height of 36 feet, similar to a two-story home. He also noted that some buildings in the Fisher-Price complex are larger than the rink would be.
The Greater East Aurora Area Chamber of Commerce recently voted to back the project, which is projected to draw 150,000 patrons annually -- during a typically "dead" winter period after the holidays have passed. That could mean more business for village merchants at a slow time of year.
"It does not promote sprawl," Tehan said. "To put it on the outskirts of town, you would lose walkability and the spinoff to area merchants."