Skating on Thin Ice: Donations Needed

By Megan Trent

January 23, 2013 Updated Jan 23, 2013 at 7:36 PM EDT

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (www.incnow.tv) - The Headwaters Park Alliance is asking for public donations to help fund two major improvements at the downtown ice rink.

Executive Director Geoff Paddock says the group's first priority is replacing the ice rink's refrigeration unit. He says the park's 25-year-old chiller broke down just before Christmas Eve, and employees had to scramble to lease a new one to keep the rink frozen.

Leasing a chiller costs about $5,500 per month, says Paddock. Buying a new one with a warranty would cost about $150,000, but he says it could last another two decades.

Skating fees haven't been raised since the rink opened about ten years ago, and Paddock says the fees aren't enough to pay for such a large expense. He says the fees are put into the park's general fund and easily absorbed by upkeep, staff payroll and leasing the new chiller.

The Alliance hopes to raise the needed funds through private donations. Paddock says he has already been discussing options with local businesses, organizations and foundations, but individual donations are also welcome. If private donations aren't enough to purchase a new chiller by fall, Paddock says the Alliance will either ask the Fort Wayne Parks Department to cover some of the expense or the group will continue to lease a chiller.

"That would improve the rink," says Paddock. "It would give us better ice. It would help us sustain the ice when the weather gets warm. I think it would also be more attractive. This refrigeration unit isn't the best looking one, and it does use a lot of electricity."

A new chiller may allow for an extended skating season. Currently, the rink opens in November and closes the first week of March. This year, the last day for skating will be March 3.

In addition, the Alliance would like to raise another $100,000 to increase the size of the ice rink from 60' x 120' to 80' x 160'. Paddock says the rink has grown in popularity over the years, attracting more than 20,000 skaters each year. In northeast Indiana, it's the only covered ice rink open to the public seven days a week.

For more information, call 260-425-5745. Tax deductible donations can be sent to:

Headwaters Park Alliance
110 W Berry St, Suite 2012
Fort Wayne, IN 46802

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