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Norwalk Building Makes Way for SoNo Ice House

NORWALK, Conn. – The former Nash Engineering building on Wilson Avenue that some Norwalk residents saw as an eyesore is gone. The last standing parts came down Friday, leaving a pile of rubble to be cleared from what will become a parking lot. On the other side of the property, the newer part of the building has been salvaged, and the Sono Ice House is taking shape.

"It's coming along, especially the last two weeks," said Eric Lind, a longtime hockey player working with friend Ryan Hughes to fulfill the dream of turning the long-derelict Norwalk building into what they say will be "the best ice skating facility in Connecticut."

The forms on what will become the junior ice skating rink have been laid out in the cavernous space, the latest development in the transformation. Side boards line a nearby hall, waiting to be installed on that rink and the much larger NHL-sized rink that will take up the bulk of the building.

Posts that were holding up the ceiling are gone, replaced by a framework of steel. Everything has been painted white, and the ceiling is being covered with a silver surface. Lights hang from the ceiling, including extra fixtures insisted upon by Hughes.

"When you go into the rinks to watch a high school game, there's never good lighting," he said. "It kills me. It takes the energy. It's a weird little thing, but we put in an extra row of lighting in. It's important. It's a pet peeve of mine."

The garage that will house the Zamboni machine has been drywalled, and the structure for a café overlooking the rinks has been built. It will feature windows to allow diners to watch the action in heated comfort. There is also an open area, where observers can yell encouragement to those down below.

Also constructed in basic form are the space that will become a sport-specific gymnasium, the ice skate rental area and locker rooms.

Lind and Hughes say they are on track for a soft opening in mid-July. The compressor for the ice should be installed in mid-June.

Both say they look forward to offering area youth a new sports alternative. "These kids need something to do," Hughes said. "We're working with some programs that introduce kids to hockey at basically really low cost. Our pricing will be as competitive as any rink in the area."

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