The following story was written by Tom Bartley and posted by Bronxville Patch Editor Chris McHugh.
A pint-sized ice hockey rink envisioned for Eastchester and Tuckahoe would be an unobtrusive addition to its industrial neighborhood, its sponsors promise.
“It’s really not going to bother anyone, including anyone who lives in the immediate vicinity,” says Zev Abraham, one of two longtime local hockey enthusiasts looking to establish the limited-use rink.
They hope to open the rink—roughly a third the size of regulation ice, but big enough for youth hockey as well as 3-on-3 adult competition—in a onetime auto warehouse at 200 Marbledale Road, which straddles the town/village line.
First, however, Abraham, a New Rochelle resident, and Kevin Wright of Greenwich, must sell their vision for the mini-rink to both communities’ land-use regulatory panels, a pursuit expected to continue in September in both municipalities. “We’re hoping that people who are looking at this project understand the unobtrusive nature of this [facility],” Abraham says. “Our machinery is going to be very quiet.”
After skating competitively from childhood through college, both men have channeled a lifelong passion for hockey into their new company, Home Ice LLC. Wright, who played at St. Lawrence University on a team that went to the NCAA national championship game in 1988, is president; Abraham, who skated for a club squad at the University of Pennsylvania, is chief financial officer. More recently, they have been local volunteers, primarily in youth hockey. “We both have kids that play,” Abraham notes.
In an appearance before Eastchester’s planning board in June, they described how Home Ice LLC would do things if their rink becomes a reality. The facility would largely provide hockey instruction, Abraham says, making ice available to teams and other groups for training, practices and games. “We're not contemplating having public skating,” he said.
But, Wright noted, “there is going to be a lot of ice available for people to come in locally to do a learn-to-skate program or if they want to learn to play hockey or something like that. We're going to have ice available for those hours.”
The rink would be open every day, from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m., accommodating the sport’s perpetual quest for ice time, even at odd hours. It’s already drawn interest in youth hockey circles. “One of the programs that we're going to be working with is the Bronxville Youth Program,” Wright says. “They've already committed to using us for their under-8 program.”
In addition, says Abraham, “The Eastchester/Tuckahoe/Bronxville high school team has approached us to use the facility for practices.” The team plans to use it for stamina workouts, just to get on the ice, aware that the facility is not regulation size, he says. “They'll still practice at larger facilities,” Abraham told the planning board, “but they will be able to add a practice or two a week and just do drills and get in better shape.”
Regulation ice measures 85 x 200 feet, for a playing surface of 17,000 square feet. Drawings submitted by Home Ice show a playing area 55 x 94, or 5,170 square feet. Abraham believes their warehouse site could accommodate a rink measuring 60 x 100, and would likely come in just under that. “We're going to try to make it as big as we can,” he says.
“It’s extremely hard to build full-size ice rinks,” Abraham points out. “Nobody wants them around and the land is very costly.”
The converted warehouse in total measures just over 10,000 square feet. “It's tiny,” Wright says. “So, it's not going to be a big facility and it's not going to be used for big high school hockey games or tournaments.”
Beyond the main ice, he adds, the developers expect to build a 28-x-40-foot shooting pad “ for goalies and shooters to practice stick handling, shooting and goal-tending.”
A mezzanine would accommodate spectators, Wright says. “There's going to be an area upstairs where people are going to be able to observe the practice and the little mini games and things like that,” he told the Eastchester planning board. “So, there are not going to be bleachers there.”
Most of the warehouse site, already zoned for general business, is in Tuckahoe (61 percent) and the rest in Eastchester. While Tuckahoe’s zoning code allows for an activity like skating, Eastchester’s does not, forcing them to seek a special-use permit from the town.
The village planning board voted its intent in June to be the lead agency for a state-mandated environmental review of the project, which will include studies of the rink’s impact on traffic, parking and noise, especially of the compressors needed to cool the rink.
In addition, Home Ice will have to ask Eastchester’s zoning board of appeals for “variances” to relax some parts of the town zoning code related to parking, setbacks and hours of operation. A variance usually seeks to avoid an “undue hardship” that would arise if a municipality applied the strict letter of the zoning code to a proposed use. In that case, state law allows the ZBA, within specific guidelines, to waive the disqualifying restriction.
Abraham feels confident his miniature rink will fit right in. “It’s really going to be a very unobtrusive sort of facility,” he says.