Is roller hockey in Warwick's future?

| 28 Sep 2011 | 02:46

    WARWICK-Jim DeSotle hopes that someday kids and adults who live in Warwick can play roller hockey right alongside the soccer fields and baseball diamond at the Town Park on Union Corners Road. DeSotle, a member of the town's Recreation Committee, travels down to Hackensack to play in a men's ice hockey league each week. His nephews live and play roller hockey in Sloatsburg. He is hoping that his three-year-old son, Jordan, will get to play in his own hometown someday. But first, there is much work to do. The groundwork for a roller hockey rink is already laid. About five years ago, the town put down a patch of blacktop at the Union Corners Road sports complex that was to be used for an ice rink in the winter. Engineering issues prevented that from ever happening. But the blacktop remains and DeSotle has his eye on it for roller hockey. Like any project, though, he needs backing - both in people and money. "We have to come up with money," DeSotle said. "We have to crate that non-profit group, get insurance, and then start raising money for the actual project." Even those first steps are expensive. DeSotle estimates it will cost about $1,200 just to get started from a legal standpoint to create the non-profit group. Pro bono services from any lawyers out there are always welcome, DeSotle added. He also needs people to dive into the project with him. To create a roller hockey league, there will have to be a board of directors, including a president, treasurer, and secretary. Then the fund raising begins. DeSotle was involved in this type of project before. He helped to build one in Oakland, N.J., about six years ago. His vision for a rink here in Warwick is to have four-foot high fiberglass boards on the bottom, topped with five feet of chain-link fencing on top. It would be regulation size - 80 x 120 feet. DeSotle estimates it would cost between $60,000 and $70,000. "Since the blacktop is already down, that saves on the cost somewhat," he said. And the fiberglass boards are a bit more expensive than wooden ones would be, but they are more durable and will last longer. DeSotle would also like to sell advertising space on the boards to local businesses. The hockey league would be run by a private group, just like the town's soccer, baseball, and football leagues. Maintenance on the facility would be provided, in large part, by the league. DeSotle sees the rink open to the public as well as the league he hopes to create. "It would be used year round," he said. "Roller hockey is played mostly in the fall and winter. We would go by whenever the league plays. The league would have first dibs on the rink but it would also be opened for pickup games. It would be open for the entire town." Several surrounding towns already have roller hockey leagues, including Washingtonville. DeSotle has gone to the town with his proposal. Jim Gerstner, the town's liaison to recreation and deputy supervisor, said he sees no problem with the proposal. "I don't see a problem with this as long as the insurance issues are met," Gerstner said. "The blacktop is just sitting there not being utilized." Warwick has a large population of active kids. More than 1,200 participate in the Warwick Youth Soccer League and nearly 1,000 belong to the Little League. Many kids use roller blades around town. DeSotle hopes to drum up some interest soon. He'd like to have the organization started by spring, and get started on raising the funds shortly after. Construction on the rink would only take a few weeks, he estimated, something he hopes will happen in 2006. "This really is the perfect area for a hockey rink," DeSotle said. "I'd love to get this started." Anyone interested