PETOSKEY — Fundraising is underway for the all-season pavilion at the Winter Sports Park, which will provide cover from the elements in order to extend the facility’s season year-round.
The estimated cost of the project is $1,100,000. Currently, $500,000 is needed to reach the fundraising goal. A significant portion of the funding came from the Noon Rotary Club, which donated $277,000 for its 100th anniversary project. A private donor contributed $25,000 to the project and the city received a $298,000 grant from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources Trust Fund.
The city is pursuing other grant opportunities while also seeking private donations through the Petoskey-Harbor Springs Area Community Foundation.
The Winter Sports Park has been a part of Petoskey for 120 years. About 30 years ago, the city and the Rotary Club of Petoskey collaborated to build the Winter Sports Park Lodge.
Parks and Recreation director Kendall Klingelsmith said the goal is to have the project fully funded by the end of 2023 so it can be bid out to contractors in 2024 and completed in late fall, ahead of the winter season.
“There are three enemies of ice and that is snow and rain and sunshine, of course also leaves flying over and so on and so forth,” said Joe Blachy, co-chair of Friends of the Winter Sports Park. “When you eliminate those three things, it’s not as good as having a refrigerated rink, but the rink is still used for ice hockey. So (the pavilion) makes it much better for them. But it’s not just for the hockey, it’s for everything else.”
Precipitation, UV rays and debris can make the rink unusable, even in the winter months. There is currently no way of keeping the space from pooling with water. The proposed updates would protect the rink and keep the ice in good condition. The pavilion would protect the rink from the elements, as well as the people enjoying the space.
The pavilion is not the only change coming to the sports park. Klingelsmith said they plan to replace the surface with new concrete, replace the hockey dash boards and add new equipment, such as basketball hoops.
“We want this to be an organic community project,” Klingelsmith said. “We’d like the community to support it. Our community’s going to get to use it.”
Monetary donations are not the only way to support the project. Klingelsmith said they are also looking for people to help raise awareness and reach out to organizations and businesses to help raise funds.
“The goal of this is to turn it into an all-year round area where we can have outdoor recreation. When we’re not using it in the winter time, we want to use it for basketball, we want to use it for events, we want to use it for whatever,” Klingelsmith said.
“It’s a unique project. There’s a big space underneath the hockey rink, so we have every intention to really try to use that as a recreation program facility or venue in the other months. So there’s a lot of options that we anticipate when that is completed.”
According to Klingelsmith, there is no way to track how many people use the park every year, but several thousand rent skates and purchase concessions.
Currently, the park is used for city-run day camps in the off-season. The pavilion would serve to protect attendees from summer sun and allow them to spend time outside even when it is raining.
The pavilion will also provide a space for basketball, lacrosse and soccer.
“We know just from observation how busy it is. And we know what it does for the community in the wintertime. It gets people outside and they skate and they sled and they hang out,” Klingelsmith said. “This community is really fortunate to have something like that and we just want to make it better for the next generation.”
Source: Tess Ware, The Petoskey News-Review 1/11/23