More games off the ice for New England Sports Center


Marlborough – Hockey fans will soon have more choices of video games and other amusement devices at the New England Sports Center (NESC), located at 121 Donald Lynch Blvd.

On Jan. 24, the Marlborough City Council unanimously approved the request from the sports center management to amend its special permit and add 16 machines to accommodate the public, bringing the total number to 42. There have been 26 machines at the NESC since 1994.

With the expansion of the complex over the years, the demand for that type of entertainment has also increased.

According to the conditions of the special permit, all video games will be located on the second floor of the building. Other amusements such as pool tables (four maximum), foosball, ping pong, basketball and similar games, may be located in the snack bar and family areas.

As a special condition of approval, NESC management will hire a company to identify and rectify radio communication problems within the building to provide better contact with Marlborough public safety departments, including police, fire and emergency management. The NESC will pay for the study.

City Councilor At-Large Patricia Pope also commended the New England Sports Center for its response to an emergency last month when a high school hockey player collapsed on the ice after being hit in the chest with a puck during a game. In other news, the City Council Human Resource Committee will discuss the possible realignment and reorganization of that department Monday, Jan. 31.

Last fall, the Human Services Task Force had recommended modifications including: keeping the Human Services director (HSD) position and fully funding it after Dec. 31, 2010; shifting the primary role of the HSD from a case management and individualized support to outreach and referral services, with discretion given to serve some residents who desperately need individual attention; Human Services, Council on Aging and Veterans Affairs being reorganized and consolidated into one department, to be called the Department of Health and Human Services; having one director and administrator of this new department; developing a Master Plan with input from community-based agencies that would address how residents can receive services, improving links to those services, possibly creating a Health and Human Services Advisory Board, and creating a Marlborough Resource Center as a single point of information and referrals for those varying services.

After further discussions in Nov. 2010, the City Council asked Mayor Nancy E. Stevens to submit a reorganization plan. That plan, with salary steps for positions, was presented to the City Council at its meeting Jan. 24.

In other business, the city’s snow and ice budget was increased to $1.5 million.

Last year the City Council initially voted to budget $500,000, with an additional $500,000 held in reserve. Now the city will need an additional $500,000 to cover winter expenses.

Ronald M. LaFreniere, Commissioner of Public Works, noted in correspondence Jan. 20 to Stevens that the city has already spent or will spend $941,285 in snow removal costs.

“Given pending requisitions and outstanding invoicing for the last two major storm events, we anticipate that we will exhaust the $58,715 remaining in authorization,” he wrote.

The city was also notified by the state Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs that it has been designated a “Green Community” and will be given $217,000 in a grant to be used on energy-saving projects and renewable energy initiatives.

The City Council will formally accept the grant at its next meeting, according to City Councilor At-Large Michael Ossing, who also chairs the council’s Finance Committee.

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