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Burton Street skating rinks have rich history, melting budget

When R. James Hubbard gifted the parcel of land to the village with ideas of a public skating-rink in mind, it was up to a few good men who were willing to work hard and volunteer their time. Robert H. Kelly stepped up to the challenge, in which he took great pride in completing.

From Kelly's (former) home at 8 Burton St., he would often visit the rink at midnight in sub-zero temperatures to ensure a fresh sheet of ice would be available to skaters the following day. It was Kelly's determination and commitment that helped the facility to grow, both as a recreational center for children, and a training ground for future Cazenovia athletes.

In the first years of operation, park benches were sprinkled around the rink for skaters and spectators. In 1956 a wooden frame warming hut, complete with a coal stove, was erected. The shack was eventually replaced by the cement shelter that inhabits the space between rinks today. Construction of the new structure was commissioned by the Rotary Club and built in 1963.

Two years before, Kelly had started the youth hockey program alongside Roger Scaife and William Scoones in 1961. Their modest beginnings eventually gave way to three age divisions and eventually the sport's inclusion as a high school program. Numerous players improved their skill set and worked their way up the ranks, thanks to Kelly. One in particular, Mark Costello, would eventually go on to coach the high school hockey team for a number of years.

Kelly was a well-known member of Cazenovia. His service to the youth hockey program and involvement in various village organizations earned him many commendations. Kelly received the Distinguished Service Award from the Cazenovia Jaycees in 1968, as well as the Jenkins Memorial Award from the PTA in 1969.

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