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Irregular News for 8.21.05

 

Stamford, CT -- Calling the Orlins ice skating enthusiasts may be a bit of an understatement. The Stamford residents are spending $630,000 to build an indoor ice skating rink in the backyard of their 13-acre property just off the Merritt Parkway. Stamford officials believe the 13,000-square-foot rink will be the first of its kind in the city.

 

"Millions of people come down our road to see it because nobody can believe it's there," said neighbor Maria Fedele.

 

According to plans filed with the city, the 28-foot-tall building will have an ice surface about half the size of a regulation hockey rink. A concrete floor underneath will allow the Orlins to use the rink for roller hockey, basketball and tennis when it's not covered with ice. The building will also have a viewing balcony and wet bar. The house next door has a small golf course.

 

"It's becoming a regular country club around here," Fedele said.

 

City officials said they believe the Orlins are building the rink for their son, a Stamford Youth Hockey player.

 

"The kid, I suppose, can invite some friends over, but it can't be used by any teams or for any commercial use," said Robin Stein, head of the city's Land Use Bureau. "It's like a giant playroom, it just happens to be an ice rink."

 

The Orlins declined an interview with The Advocate of Stamford.

 

"My husband and I want to keep it low-key," Julie Orlin said. "We don't want to make a fuss about it."

 

She said the Orlins do not think the project is unusual, saying they know of four similar rinks in Greenwich. In a sworn affidavit filed with the city, Paul Orlin said he would use the rink solely for recreation with family and friends.

 

"The primary use of the facility will be as an ice skating rink for skating and hockey, a passion of mine and my family for years," he wrote.

 

Stamford Youth Hockey President John Shanahan said he has not approached the Orlins about using the rink, assuming there would be problems with insurance and objections from neighbors.

 

He said he wouldn't want a situation like one in Greenwich where a family that built a backyard lacrosse field became embroiled in a dispute with neighbor Judy Sheindlin, star of the television show "Judge Judy."

 

The rink building is six times larger than most of the houses in the neighborhood, which was developed in the 1950s and 60s on the former estate of Mount Rushmore sculptor Gutzon Borglum.

 

When Mayor Dannel Malloy attended a ceremony for a bridge opening in the neighborhood, residents took him to the end of the street to show him the ice rink.

 

Malloy said he had heard about the rink, but is jealous now that he's seen it.

 

"I remember the day my father and my uncle put enough money together to put up an above-ground swimming pool 25-foot-round in my uncle's yard," Malloy said. "And now I live in a city where people have enough money to build their own ice rinks. This is a great country, America."

 

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