Plans announced for shorter operating schedule, sponsorships
By Terry Duffy
As discussions wound up at Town Hall this week on Lewiston's $16.820 million 2017 tentative spending plan, town officials reported steps are now being taken to resurrect the Lewiston Family Ice Rink for the upcoming Lewiston Christmas Walk and holiday season.
"I understand he (Town Parks/Recreation Director Michael Dashineau) has put out a letter to raise money" (for its operation), Town Finance Director Marti Blazick said.
She cautioned, "As of this moment, I can't comment, nothing official." Blazick said no money had been included for the rink in the town's 2016 budget, and that funding is being factored in for 2017.
Facing funding challenges and the return of a town tax, the Town Board had earlier announced plans to put the Lewiston Family Ice Rink "on ice" for the 2016 season.
"Give us a chance to do this right," Town Supervisor Steve Broderick said last month of the town's intent to suspend rink operations for 2016 and return with a workable plan in 2017.
Dashineau has come up with a new plan to save the rink. He announced this week the town's Parks/Recreation Department, together with community organizers, have decided to take on the task of bringing the rink back to life for this season.
To make it doable, Dashineau said he would start with utilizing roughly $30,000 in funding contained in the Recreation Department's operating budget, plus $8,000 in available Greenway monies, and $7,000 in expendable hydropower money to cover electrical expenses.
"A total of $47,000 would be coming from the town," he said.
In addition Dashineau said he would trim the rink's operations from a 60-day schedule to 42 days for the upcoming season. He's envisioning a schedule roughly from the opening of the Lewiston Christmas Walk on Dec. 2 until Jan. 9, 2017.
Operating hours were not disclosed. The rink is expected to use town parks employees and seasonal staffers for its operations, as in past years.
Dashineau said he estimated the total cost of a 42-day operation to be $74,423, of which the town would pick up the aforementioned $47,000.
"We will need to raise close to $35,000," Dashineau said, as he went on to outline a number of potential funding sources.
Under consideration is a Village of Lewiston contribution of $5,000; enlisting sponsorships from area organizations, businesses, individuals and families; plus the selling of season passes for $25, and daily skate rental charges for users.
"The town has committed; the village has been great (in its support)," Dashineau said. "(Now) it's just working with vendors, the community."
Dashineau said a community sponsorship campaign is now underway, titled, "Lewiston Family Ice Rink, Become a Sponsor." A promotional flier promotes the family rink and its benefits to the community, while asking businesses, organizations, families and individuals to step forward as sponsors. Levels include bronze, $500; silver, $1,000; gold, $5,000; and donations under $500. A range of benefits is included at each sponsorship level.
Businessman Tom Deal of Deal Realty, who announced his support for keeping the rink open following the town's plans last month, said efforts are already starting to gain traction in the community.
"As you know, I have been working behind the scenes with local businesses, residents and our elected officials to keep the Lewiston Ice Rink open," Deal wrote in a letter to elected officials and fellow chamber members. "The rink provides a great opportunity for kids and families to spend time outside during the winter season. ... We all love Lewiston and the quality of life it offers us, and this is one more thing that if taken away diminishes what we have here. I am also sure that many families spend time and money at our various businesses as a result of their visit to the rink."
Deal continued, "The good news is that we have a plan in place that will keep the Ice Rink open this year and, hopefully, for many years to come. As I previously updated you, the Ice Rink has been included in next year's budget and to keep it open this year, we have cut expenses and will look to generate additional revenue by charging a small fee for skating, offering season passes to individuals and families, (and) look to expand the private party opportunities and offer a greater variety of packaged food and drinks for sale. We are also counting on sponsors to remain at their current level or potentially increase to help get us through this year.
"We are hoping that others step up as well to become a sponsor and assist us in this cause. The current plan is calling for 42 days of operation beginning in the first part of December, but we are hoping that with the additional revenue, we can expand it to the regular 56 days."
Dashineau said two unidentified sources have already expressed an interest in assisting on the sponsorships, and he expects more to come forward. In the meantime, he said he intends to further discuss his plans of selling preseason passes and other items with Mayor Terry Collesano and village trustees at Monday's joint village-town meeting. That session will take place at 5 p.m. at the Red Brick Municipal Building, 145 N. Fourth St.
"Look, I'm in for this. It's my neck. It's going to work," Dashineau said.
A public hearing on the town budget will take place at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 9, at Town Hall. The 2017 budget needs to be filed with the state by Nov. 21.