Paul Bishop may not be a member of The Skating Club of Boston, but he’s one of its biggest champions.
Bishop is in his third term as an elected selectman in the town of Norwood, the new suburban home for the Club. Asked to recall his thoughts when he first heard of the Club’s interest, he doesn’t hesitate.
“If I had to pick a word it would be ‘elation,’” he says. “They’ve chosen a perfect location. It’s close enough to Rte. 1 and doesn’t bring unwanted traffic to a residential area. The Club itself will bring people into town, and they will, in turn, bring business to our hotels and restaurants. And I can’t say enough about everyone I’ve worked with at the Club. I am so glad they decided to settle here. They are a first-class organization and first-class people.”
As for figure skating the sport, he says, who isn’t star-struck by legends like Tenley Albright and Scott Hamilton? “Anywhere you go you will find fans of figure skating,” he says. “It has a way of capturing your imagination that is hard to beat.”
Both the Planning Board and Board of Selectmen unanimously approved the new Club’s move to Norwood, bringing new life to the former site of Lost Brook Golf Club. Norwood in recent years lost a strong manufacturing base and jobs; the closing of a local press and of a Polaroid plant “left big holes” in the community, says Bishop.
Now a new wave of industry is coming, drawn in part by the town’s strategic location — close proximity to Boston and a network of major highways. There’s pride in Bishop’s voice as he shares how many residents consider Norwood “the crown of the Commonwealth.” These days, they’re also optimistic about where the town is headed. “Now,” he says, “we call The Skating Club of Boston our jewel in the crown.”
Indeed, the 180,000-square-foot facility will be impressive, encompassing three rinks, a sports injury prevention and strength training center, dance studio, Club and team locker rooms, coaches lounge, ticket office, lobby café, Club trophy room, library and study center, multiple guest areas and meeting rooms, and an apparel and equipment store.
In addition to benefits for the local economy, The Skating Club of Boston’s reputation for superior training, plus a new Olympic-size performance center, are expected to bring thousands of skaters and spectators to the facility each year, putting Norwood on the map as a destination for skaters and skating enthusiasts from around the world.
It is also offering discounted ice time for the Norwood High School hockey team and the youth program, as well as reduced-price memberships for Norwood residents.
Bishop, formerly a Norwood police officer, was born in Norwood in 1947, said everything about the Club adds up to a great fit with his hometown. “I’ve lived here my whole life, and with any luck, I’ll die here too,” he says. “Norwood is a great town and we’re trying to make it better every day. Just as The Skating Club of Boston is building a bright future, so are we. It’s a great partnership.”