Whidbey Island may be getting a semi-permanent, synthetic ice rink, open from Thanksgiving to Valentine’s Day.
During their Thursday meeting, the North Whidbey Parks and Recreation District’s board of commissioners considered a proposal by Executive Director Steve McCaslin to take charge of the last year’s “Island Ice” event.
Christine Cribb, executive director of Oak Harbor Chamber of Commerce, headed the event Dec. 26-31 as a six-day novelty offering at Windjammer Park.
The chamber raised the $22,000 to rent the rink from business sponsors, netting $5,700 in proceeds by the end of the event.
Out of 507 chamber members surveyed by Cribb, 98 percent said they wanted to put on “Island Ice” again.
However, after looking at the insurance costs to continue the program, Cribb said she approached McCaslin to see if the Parks and Rec district wanted to take over the event.
“The proposal … would be to work with the chamber hand-in-hand here to turn this event over to us,” McCaslin said.
The district would start by embarking on a capital campaign with the chamber, hoping to raise enough money to purchase a rink, which fits together in square sheets as synthetic ice.
The idea is that a purchased rink would be able to reap revenue for a longer period of time that a rented one.
“Through one hundred percent sponsorship, we would own this,” McCaslin said. “It gets set up for a period of time, it gets broken back down, it gets stored.”
Parks and Rec would then find a suitable location, set up the rink, staff it with lifeguards and use their own insurance policy to operate on weekends and a few select weekdays during the holiday season.
But the endeavor doesn’t come cheap.
The 30-by-60 foot rink would cost between $28,000 and $39,000, McCaslin said.
Any revenue collected from admission, vendor charges and merchandise would offset staffing and insurance costs, McCaslin said, with the remaining funds filtering back into North Whidbey Parks a Recreation District.
The commissioners will meet in a special session to discuss the proposition further.