IMAGE BY: Google
BY: Najla Alexander
Union County Board of County Commissioners officials reported that on Wednesday, October 19, at 5:00 p.m., Senate President Nicholas Scutari will present a check on behalf of the State of New Jersey to the County of Union for 8 million dollars for a new indoor ice skating rink at the Warinanco Sports Center.
"On behalf of the Union County Board of County Commissioners, I would like to thank the Senate President and the State of New Jersey for providing us the funding for this much-anticipated project," said Commissioner Chair Rebecca Williams.
"Right now, we have a great facility in use, but it can only be used seasonally; with the construction of a new state-of-the-art indoor skating rink, we will be able to offer year-round use of the building, attracting even more visitors and leagues. I am looking forward to watching this rink come to life."
Commission officials stated in a contract to be awarded to USA Architects that the concept design for the new facility will feature a second sheet of ice, increasing the facility's capacity.
The project for the new rink is slated to begin by the end of 2023, with an estimated completion date of 2025.
"We are proud to support a new skating rink that will serve communities throughout Union County," said Senate President Scutari.
"A year-round rink will provide more young hockey players and recreational skaters the opportunity to use a state-of-art facility for healthy and enjoyable activities. The Warinanco Sports Center will continue to be a premiere attraction for Union County."
Since 1961, area families have enjoyed the seasonal skating in the park — and in 2019, the skating building was renovated and renamed to the Warinanco Sports Center, which sits adjacent to the skating rink.
The seasonal rink, which generally opens at the end of November, is home to 8 Union County high school hockey teams and hosts more than 50,000 skaters yearly.
"This is a real boost for families and young people in Union County who will now have a modern rink available throughout the year," said Senator Joe Cryan.
"The sporting events and recreational skating will be more accessible and affordable for working families. The new Warinanco Center will be an active and important part of the Union County community."
"As youth sports become increasingly expensive, a new county facility will allow non-profits like the Cranford Hockey Club and many Union County high school boys and girls ice hockey programs to keep this sport affordable in the rapidly changing landscape of for-profit youth sports," said Commissioner Sergio Granados.
"Once completed, the Warinanco Sports Center will be even more attractive to residents and visitors, who come from all over to use the facility."
"The creation of a new ice rink at Warinanco Park is a transformative moment for youth sports in Union County and North Jersey," said Mike DuHaime, president of the non-profit Cranford Hockey Club.
"The new rink will allow us to keep costs down for families, play more games here in Union County, and most importantly, start a scholarship program, opening the doors for so many more children locally to play ice hockey, so the cost will no longer be a barrier to access to the ice. The Cranford Hockey Club and the entire hockey community of Union County and beyond thank Senate President Scutari, Commissioner Williams, and the entire board of commissioners for their foresight and efforts in making this new rink a reality."