By Don Nelson
The Winthrop Ice & Sports Rink (WISR) is within about $60,000 of meeting its local fundraising goal to match a state grant that will help pay for permanent refrigeration and other upgrades at the outdoor facility.
Laurie Ulmer, chair of the fundraising effort for the rink, said that a final push will begin this week with a general mailing to the community soliciting support.
If fundraising goals are met, the plan is to break ground on the rink improvements in May 2015 and complete work in time for the 2015-16 winter season.
Refrigeration equipment to make the ice surface would allow the rink to be open about 115 days a year and make it possible to stage many more events such as hockey tournaments, backers say.
Ulmer said that with refrigeration, the rink would already be open now. As it is, the 2014 opening date is uncertain and depends entirely on the weather.
(WISR) got a big boost in its fundraising efforts recently when the Winthrop Town Council agreed to a request from the town’s Lodging Tax Advisory Committee to use $75,000 from Winthrop’s hotel/hotel tax revenues to move the ice rink project closer to its local goal.
The Town of Winthrop, which owns the rink, has received a $497,000 grant from the Washington Recreation and Conservation Office toward the refrigeration project, which would allow the rink to guarantee ice throughout the winter and upgrade other facilities.
The WISR campaign is working to raise the required matching funds with local donations, which will include $70,000 worth of in-kind labor and materials and a portion of the $170,000 bequest made to the rink by the late Red McComb.
Increased winter tourism is a major economic factor behind the push for refrigeration equipment. A youth hockey tournament at the rink last winter drew nearly 400 visitors, according to information from the tax advisory committee, and three or four tournaments a year could be staged if there is guaranteed ice.
Tax-deductible donations can be made to Winthrop Ice & Sports Rink, P.O. Box 1262, Winthrop, WA 98862. For more information, go to winthropicerink.com or call 996-4199.