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Critics put rink site on thin ice

Critics of a proposed ice rink in the Village of East Aurora turned up the heat Monday when they gave village trustees an earful about the rink.

"I love East Aurora and love it just the way it is. . . . There's just not enough parking spaces," said resident Kathleen Ernst. "I believe we will have another white elephant on our hands when it is done."

Like Ernst, many other residents -- some of them members of the Residents for Rink Relocation -- voiced their opposition to the project proposed by the nonprofit Aurora Ice Association for a 68,000-square-foot twin-rink facility on Riley Street.

Many faulted the findings of an independent study commissioned by the village that showed no significant parking or traffic problems.

"Everyone on both sides of this issue wants an ice rink, but my concern is the traffic and quality of life for myself and my daughter," Elizabeth Collins said. "I don't understand how people can say there won't be a traffic problem."

The debate among project critics before the Village Board was intense, with the board room packed for the second consecutive week.
As expected, the village formally named itself the lead agent on the project and initiated the state environmental quality review process.

Mayor David DiPietro told the crowd the board has not made any decisions.

"We are taking every aspect seriously -- pro and con," DiPietro said. "This is a huge project, and we understand that. We are going to go slow. . . . This board has not made any decisions, nor any decisions in private. We are trying to get what's best for this village."

Many residents urged the board to eventually determine that significant environmental impacts could result due to the rink -- requiring a much more intense and detailed study by the village under state environmental review standards.

Carol Halter, project director for the ice association, defended the traffic expert's research and the findings of the study. "I think we need to listen to the experts and not people [guessing]," she told the board. "I think that traffic information is very detailed and thorough."

Resident Al Kasprzak insisted the opponents are not against the ice rink but would rather see it in a different location.

DiPietro said he has been looking at other potential sites.


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