By Don Nelson
Jill Calvert’s report to the Winthrop Town Council on the status of improvements at the Winthrop Ice & Sports Rink (WISR) last week offered a ray of hope after weeks of anticipation.
Calvert, president of the WISR board, told the council that the refrigeration equipment the rink needs to make permanent ice had finally been loaded on a truck in Texas and was on its way.
Calvert admitted she’s heard that several times before, and yet the equipment didn’t arrive.
This time, Calvert said, “it’s actually happening,” and the equipment was expected to arrive this week.
It will take 10 days to two weeks to install the equipment and put down a layer of ice, Calvert said. Feb. 7 is now the target date for reopening the rink.
That would allow WISR to salvage its season, which began on Christmas Day with a natural ice surface, then was disrupted by warmer weather that caused the ice to deteriorate. “We had 10 days of bliss,” Calvert said. “People were ecstatic about the new building.”
Meanwhile, the rink has lost an estimated $25,000 in revenues so far this season, and had at least one youth hockey tournament cancelled.
If the rink re-opens as anticipated, it will be able to host an adult hockey tournament scheduled for Feb. 18–20. About a dozen teams are expected to participate, Calvert said.
Calvert told the council that the company contracted to provide the refrigeration equipment had been unreliable and unresponsive, promising six delivery dates that it subsequently missed.
Calvert said the equipment delay was, initially, “partly our fault” because WISR was trying to decide what kind of equipment to purchase. Once a delivery date was promised, however, the delays were caused by the contractor, Calvert said.
In addition to the refrigeration equipment, which will allow WISR to extend its season at both ends no matter what the weather brings, the main building was expanded and rental facilities, changing rooms and the viewing area were all upgraded.
The rink is owned by the Town of Winthrop and operated under contract by the nonprofit WISR board. State grants and local contributions of labor and materials to build the rink, and to later add new facilities and the refrigeration equipment, come to about $1 million.