LOWVILLE — The new refrigeration system for the skating rink at the Lewis County Fairgrounds has been put on ice for one more season.
The Lewis County Hockey and Skating Association sent out a letter on June 20, informing individuals and organizations who have donated to the campaign to replace the ice-making system that the association had decided to “postpone the project for one season.”
Rather than purchasing the new “chiller lines” in July to be installed in November, the association now plans to do so in July and November 2020.
The main reason for the delay, according to association President Mike Millard, is financial. However, he said in the letter than there may be some changes to the Forest Park Pavilion that houses the rink by the Agricultural Society, making the delay a good plan on more than one level.
To date, about $48,500 of the $95,000 goal has been raised, including about $11,000 from individual donations, a $10,000 Pratt Northam Foundation grant, $2,500 from the Copenhagen Wind Farm and $25,000 from the association’s own savings.
“We thought about just buying the lines using more of our savings but then we wouldn’t have any money for our programs,” said association Secretary Angie Millard.
The chiller lines alone will cost $65,000, while the hook up connectors will cost an additional $10,000 and the glycol coolant $20,000.
Mrs. Millard said the coolant they have been using was “recycled,” donated to the rink by Vestas, the wind turbine company that worked on the Maple Ridge Wind Farm, but the association was informed they would need to buy new coolant for the new system to ensure its efficiency.
The Agricultural Society is considering a number of options to update the pavilion, Mrs. Millard said, for example new flooring, which if it happens, may change the way the refrigeration system will be installed.
“In another year, some new plans could unfold. Maybe, maybe not, but by raising the rest of the money we need, we’ve got time to see what will happen,” Mrs. Millard said.
While the existing refrigeration system has been repaired often over the last few years and “requires constant attention,” according to the letter, the association is hopeful they can make it last for one more season.
Every year it takes 500 total volunteer hours to assemble, maintain and dismantle the seasonal rink in the multi-use pavilion.
The ice rink holds some of the few winter activities that are low or no cost and have been a tradition in the village for many years, including public skating, youth hockey, youth skating lessons, figure skating, adult hockey league and even some school gym classes.
It is estimated that 80 percent of ice hours are open to the public, while organized activities account for the remaining 20 percent.
Mrs. Millard said the association will continue to look for funding opportunities and will do everything they can to have what is needed by next year, while the letter assured those who have already contributed.
“The money that you have donated has been delegated into a specific savings account. It will only be used for the refrigeration project,”
For more information, go to https://www.lewiscohockey.org/.