Local roller hockey players are being tripped up by the current conditions of the rink at Mafera Park in Ridgewood.
Players contend that the surface of the rink is in disrepair, making it nearly impossible for skaters to play at the park. Over the years, the boards of the hockey rink have been damaged and temporarily repaired time after time. The latest damage to the rink came on Nov. 7, when players noticed that the door to the rink had been removed off of its hinges and thrown into the middle of the rink.
“I’ve put in work orders to the Parks Department for the last two years, but nothing has been done,” said Rich Martocci, a local roller hockey player who has played at Mafera Park for years. “We’re not asking for a lot. We want it resurfaced. We want to keep the rink here.”
In 1995, the rink was added to Mafera Park, which has been called several different names over the years including Farmers Oval, Ridgewood Park, and Glen Ridge Park for its location on the border of Glendale and Ridgewood. The rink is National Hockey League (NHL) regulation size, making it an ideal place for players of any skill level to play.
“It’s horrible. It’s been deteriorating over the last few years,” said Andrew Oddo, roller hockey player and founding member of the former Oval Hockey League (OHL) that frequently played at the rink. “The rink was so beautiful. It was probably one of the best rinks in all five boroughs, in all honesty, for roller hockey.”
The rink is outfitted with a lighting system and an electronic scoreboard, which brought in a wealth of players and leagues looking for a place to skate. The scoreboard has long since stopped working and the lights haven’t been operating recently.
“It’s sad what happened to it. We tried to get it resurfaced. I even brought Con Ed in there to see if they could get electricity to the old scoreboard, and for some reason in the last year or so the lights won’t come on at all,” Oddo said. “If there was something wrong with the playground I’m sure it would get fixed. If there was something wrong with the football field I’m sure they would fix it. The rink is just as public as any of those spaces.”
The 104th Precinct Roller Hockey Team and the OHL called Mafera Park its home while the leagues were still in operation. Former players from those leagues and other local roller hockey players are hoping their rink can be brought back to the condition it was once in, giving everyone a great place to play roller hockey.
“Graffiti on the rink has been painted over and the door hinges are expected to be fixed this week by our in-house crews. There is currently no funding in place for a capital reconstruction,” said a Parks Department spokesperson. “We are working with the local precinct and Parks Enforcement Patrol to monitor this park after hours to deter any future vandalism. We are also in touch with a group of local hockey players who are interested in partnering with us to maintain the site and revive the community interest in roller hockey.”
Oddo has set up a memorial game on Nov. 22 to honor the memory of Frank Herring, who recently died and was an instrumental figure in getting the roller hockey rink into Mafera Park and keeping it in a playable condition for the community.