For the last several years, local resident Michael Domian has provided a seasonal recreational opportunity for those in his neighborhood, opening a small, temporary skating rink in the backyard for his children and their friends.
Domian, a member of the Board of Water Commissioners, and Town Councilwoman Dawn Miceli are looking to bring the joy their children have experienced in his backyard to kids across town – and already the efforts to establish a community ice rink are making ground.
With four local businesses already providing assistance, more than half the $7,000 needed to purchase the temporary rink has already been raised and organizers are hopeful that residents could be able to skate as early as the week after Christmas.
“It’s exciting. I remember as a kid, we used to go out during December vacation and we’d spend the whole week skating. It was something we looked forward to,” Domian said. “That’s the kind of excitement I hope to see from the children and families in Southington.”
Domian and Miceli, supported by many town officials including Town Attorney Mark Sciota and the , began fundraising in November, and have already received $1,000 donations from ESPN, the Calvanese Foundation, Billy Carlson Heating and PTE Energy. Before they can purchase the ring, Miceli said an additional $3,000 in sponsorships is needed.
The town will purchase the rink from NiceRink.com, a Wisconsin-based company, at no cost to the taxpayers but in order to buy it, the final donations are critical, Miceli said.
Mike Soltys, vice president of communications at ESPN, said when the company learned of the effort, they were happy to help and provided the first donation. The company has long supported recreational sport activities at a local level, he said.
“We gladly are providing the donation. The rink will offer a great chance to get outside in the winter and be active,” Soltys said. “ESPN is happy to contribute to this Southington project.”
The has already agreed to fill the rink, which will be placed along the southern section of near the little league field, and the use of a rink that will have six or seven inches of water rather than a pond reduces liability considerably. The rink will be 80 feet by 100 feet, approximately half the size of an NHL arena.
It will also be placed in a shaded area to prevent excessive melting and in direct lighting, which would allow the rink to remain open during park hours, also at no additional cost to the town.
Once a rink is purchased, maintenance costs will be far less expensive said Domian, who also noted that the first year will help gauge just how much interest there is in the outdoor recreation.
“We will have to see just how much people use it,” Domian said. “There has been considerable use in Meriden and Bristol has gotten such a great response that they are actually opening a second rink this year. We expect there will be a good turnout here in town once we open as well.”
Miceli said if people use the rink considerably, there could also be additional opportunities for local organizations including the Boys Scouts and Girl Scouts to sell hot chocolate and other concessional items for non-profit benefit.
In Meriden, Eddie Seibert said the town received 45 “skatable” days last winter and are hoping the weather will cooperate equally this year. If the town is able to get the rink up soon – the timing of it’s opening is dependent on both weather and when the town can purchase the rink – organizers are hopeful that Southington residents could see equal opportunities.
“We hope this not only kicks off soon, but that people will take advantage of this unique opportunity,” Miceli said.
Anyone interested in making a donation can reach Dawn Miceli at firstname.lastname@example.org.