2013-12-13 / Front Page

Ice is nice

New addition speaks to winter enthusiasts
By Sean P. Milligan
Contributing Writer

A new ice rink at Wainwright Recreation Complex in South Portland will be the back drop for a winter festival in early 2014. 
(Sean P. Milligan photo) A new ice rink at Wainwright Recreation Complex in South Portland will be the back drop for a winter festival in early 2014. (Sean P. Milligan photo) SOUTH PORTLAND – South Portland has a new outdoor skating rink at the Wainwright Recreation Complex located off of Highland Avenue. The rink came to fruition thanks to the South Portland-Cape Elizabeth Rotary club and a $15,000 donation by Port Harbor Marina and the Soucy family.

Installed last week, the rink will be the centerpiece in the return of the city’s Winterfest following a one-year hiatus.

The temporary structure is 108 feet wide and 212 feet long, and was built by NiceRink of Genoa City, Wis. The structure can be moved into storage during the off-season, but South Portland

Parks and Recreation Department Director Rick Towle said he plans to have the rink set up annually.

“The item is a temporary structure, and it is built intentionally that way by NiceRink,” Towle said. “So it will be able to be moved from that location and in future years if we wanted to put it at a different location at Wainwright, we could. It will be stored appropriately during the off-season and it will only be up during the winter months. Our goal is by Dec. 15 to try and have it available to the public annually to approximately March 15 each year.”

The rink will have various skating activities scheduled, ranging from freestyle skating to non-contact pond hockey.

Although the idea started at South Portland Parks and Recreation Department, it took many others to execute the costly construction plan.

When Towle reached out to the Rotary Club of South Portland and Cape Elizabeth, the organization was unable to fund the project because it recently donated cash to other projects. However, the club assembled promotional materials to send out to local businesses to raise funds for Winterfest and the ice rink.

The Soucy family, owners of Port Harbor Marina in South Portland, decided to foot the bill.

“I had built a relationship with Mike Soucy,” said Tony Wagner, former president and 31-year Rotary Club member. “(Upon getting my email) he immediately called me back and said, ‘Come down. Let’s talk and let’s see what we can do to get you the money for Winterfest.’ Within that discussion the ice rink came up. It had come up in some previous discussions with Mike and he was very interested in that. Basically I sat down, negotiated an agreement, and they wrote a check for $15,000.”

It’s clear that the intentions of the rink are truly to benefit the residents of South Portland and the neighboring communities. With ice time hard to come by in the area, the rink at Wainwright will benefit the lovers of the winter season, especially skaters.

“This has been a collaborative effort from the Rotarians of South Portland, Cape Elizabeth, Port Harbor Marine business, and the local government agency in parks and rec to make this happen,” Towle said. “Whenever you can get that chemistry going within the community everybody really comes out on the good end of the process.”

Winterfest will be held from Jan. 31 through Feb. 1, when the rink will be dedicated to Port Harbor Marina and the Soucy family at 9:30 a.m.

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