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Roller Derby queens get OK for new practice site in Salem

SALEM - Ladies with a penchant for serious speed are set to get rolling in Salem sometime soon, with the town's blessings.

During Tuesday night's planning board meeting, the board unanimously granted a conditional use permit allowing members of New Hampshire Roller Derby to hold practices inside a former industrial building located at 11 Garabedian Drive.

Melissa Martin, who coordinates training for the five-team roller derby league, said the space is ideal for practice purposes since no major alterations are required. A portable floor will be laid down to protect the building's existing floor from grinding wheels, Martin said, and there's plenty of room for parking. Practices will take place in the evening hours from 7 to 10 p.m., according to Martin, with around 20 people attending an average session.

The roller derby practices aren't open to the public, though there will be some instances when they take place seven nights per week.

The derby athletes will use about 12,000 square feet of the building, which totals 57,167 square feet.

Planning Director Ross Moldoff said the site was previously approved for manufacturing and industrial uses, though for a brief time in the 1980s, bingo games were held there.

Moldoff said the building is vacant, and local firefighters took no issue with the NH Roller Derby practicing on the premises.

However, the town's public works department recommended that the new tenants install a backflow preventer before they get rolling.

With a new practice space secured, the 60 or so team members will continue holding their public events at the John F. Kennedy Memorial Coliseum in Manchester.

Affiliated with the Women's Flat Track Derby Association, roller derby is a contact sport where packs of team members skate on an oval-shaped track. Two players on each team, wearing stars on their helmets, are known as "jammers," which score points by legally passing their opponents. Known as a "bout," a typical competition lasts 60 minutes, which is divided into three 20-minute sessions, or two 30-minute sessions. A shorter version, know as a "jam," lasts just two minutes.

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