Yes! Oakland has a brand new roller rink which includes a freshly milled and finished surface floor, new boards, new fencing and a new flag pole with flag which will grace the west side of the recreation complex. Two years ago this did not seem like a reality while the youth roller hockey and adult street hockey programs were in danger of being cancelled. The Oakland rink and hockey programs were facing the same dilemma Franklin Lakes encountered 10-years ago but unlike Oakland, they chose to end their in-town hockey program and permanently dismantle their rink.
Five years prior to it’s closing, the old rink was seriously breaking down. Cracks were developing in the floor and after time these fissures became too large to be “filled in”. A patchwork project was implemented that would resurface the entire floor and finish it in an ice blue color. By the end of that patchwork season at least 60% of the ice blue paint had chipped away and the cracks were worsening. Given the opportunity to fix the rink or not get paid the contractor walked away from this job leaving the rink in a very sorry state.
Earlier that January when the rink was at its worse a large contingent of roller hockey parents attended the Recreation Commission meeting concerned with the status of the rink. Amongst the attendees was former Recreation Commissioner Vivian King who has been a big advocate for the roller hockey program and whose husband Ed has been a long time roller hockey coach. Coincidently an opening on the commission was occurring and it happened to be the roller hockey commissioner position. Recreation Chair Mike Guadagnino asked Vivian to rejoin the commission knowing that she would not sit idly by rather she would help him rebuild the rink.
At the end of the season another fix of the rink was attempted that included removing the sideboards. As each sideboard came down the poor condition of the old rink was exposed, so much so engineering for safety reasons condemned the entire roller rink.
On a Friday in October 2017 Mike Guadagnino met with then Councilwoman Sandra Coira and Councilman Eric Kulmula to discuss options and if it was even feasible to rebuild the now condemned rink. On that day a plan was put in place that Mike and Vivian would implement; one that would not use Oakland taxpayer monies. Mike applied for a $150,000 parks and recreation county grant on behalf of Oakland, the county vetted the idea and awarded the borough $175,000; an extra $25,000 than what was requested. Councilman Lew Levy aided recreation by asking local banks if they offered any grants for community projects. Mike applied to all banks that offered grants and was awarded $25,000 by Columbia Savings Bank. The remaining balance of the new rink will be paid by the Recreation Trust funds and a recreation finance plan using future trust funds. The entire funding for the new roller rink was established without recreation asking Oakland to foot any of the bill.
The process took two year, and like the 1974-1975 NY Mets when they allowed the Yankees to play at Shea Stadium, the town of Wyckoff was very generous and allowed Oakland Recreation Roller Hockey to share and use their rink as Oakland’s temporary home. Earlier this fall construction began on the rink and to everyone’s surprise moved very quickly. The rink is now up and running and an opening ceremony is scheduled for Friday night December 6 at 6:00pm. As Recreation Thanks the county and Columbia Savings Bank Recreation also Thanks the Altana Family who donated the new flag pole and flag in memory of Michael Altana, to Jason Duncan who will be donating his time lining the rink floor and to Sherwin-Williams Paint for donating the paint. A final Thank You goes out to Anthony, Jimmy and the entire DPW staff for their support.
This has been a two-year journey that did not go as smoothly as described above, but in the end the Oakland’s kids have a place to play, the programs will go on and the Oakland taxpayer was not asked to pay. The only thing left is to officially drop the puck. We hope to see you at the new rink on December 6th!