When the players in the Lyndhurst Youth Hockey League lace up their in-line skates for this year’s games, they won’t have to worry about cracks in the rink, or games canceled because of water damage to the playing surface.
The league’s Riverside Avenue facility is being dismantled, and the township has hired Zenith Construction to build a new $359,000 rink for roller hockey at Volunteer Field, off Page Avenue.
The project should be finished by Sept. 1, in time for the league’s opening day.
Volunteer Field, already equipped with lights and a concession stand, was used for soccer games before the recreation center fields were completed. Now, it’s available for another sport, indicated Thomas DiMaggio, commissioner of Parks and Public Property, in a phone interview with The Leader.
It just made sense to move the hockey rink away from the river, he said.
“The water problem down below was just ridiculous,” DiMaggio said of the league’s Riverside Avenue rink, adjacent to the Little League fields, and less than 100 yards from the Passaic River.
The water table underlying the rink would rise, and cause the surface to crack, said Chris Sofio, from the league.
Frequent repairs to the damage would last six months, then have to be completed again, DiMaggio added. It was a “waste of time and money.”
Lyndhurst Youth Hockey began in 1975 as a street hockey league, with players competing “on foot in between the potholes, padded poles and backboards of local basketball courts and school yards,” according to the league’s Web site.
Then, in the 1990s, the league moved to the Riverside Avenue facility, and roller hockey — with players in full protective gear and roller blades — began to replace the street version of the game. In 2001, the rink was enlarged, Sofio said.
Games have been played there ever since, and the league is now exclusively roller hockey.
Approximately 120 children and teenagers play hockey each year, Sofio said. The league is open to residents of North Arlington and Lyndhurst, and players start as young as 4 years old, learning to skate as they learn the rules of the game.
Hockey isn’t the only township sport that will benefit from the new rink. Lyndhurst Little League will gain many needed parking spaces, DiMaggio noted.
For a sport with roots in street pick-up games, the change of venue is a welcome sign of maturity.
“We’re finally going to be in a place where we can say it’s the official home of Lyndhurst Hockey,” Sofio concluded.
-By Susan C. Moeller