Support of the community will determine the rink's future

After a year's hiatus, the Siskiyou Ice Rink will reopen next month under the joint management of Friends of the Rink and the Mount Shasta Recreation and Parks District.

The abbreviated seven week season will open Nov. 17 and end Sunday, Jan. 6, said FOR's chairperson Steve Bachmann. Though it will still be run through the MSRPD, Friends of the Rink will provide financial backing, volunteers and paid staff to operate the facility.

With funds raised by FOR, the rink's chiller was repaired and given a clean bill of health, so it's ready for the season, Bachmann said.

MSRPD administrator Mike Rodriguez said he's excited about the joint venture which will allow the popular facility, located at Mount Shasta's Shastice Park, to reopen.

Last year's season was cancelled because of rising energy costs and the absence of a roof overhead, which impedes the rink's ability to maintain quality ice and remain open in bad weather.

Though the season usually lasts 13 weeks, Bachmann said this year's shortened season is an attempt to prevent a repeat of the 2011-2012 season when expenses at the rink far exceeded revenues.

Over the past year, the MSRPD has worked to pay off the rink's electricity bill that topped $18,000. During the 10 years the rink operated, only two seasons ended in the red, causing the MSRPD to backfill losses to keep the rink afloat. In October of last year, the district's five board members opted to close the rink for the 2011-2012 season.

Rink supporters have been working since then to raise money and create a viable plan to reopen the rink.

"The Siskiyou Ice Rink really needs the support of the greater Mount Shasta area skating community this season if we are to have a rink in the future," said Pauline Uri, vice chairperson of FOR. "Foundations that might consider large capital improvements such as a roof have stated that community support is essential; we must demonstrate willingness to support the rink if they are to consider funding a roof project."

"Pass sales and ticket prices have been reduced to reflect the shorter season," Bachmann said. "It is our hope that not extending the season into late-January and February will prevent the large deficits of the past... A longer season in 2013-2014 may be possible if the rink operates successfully this year."

Details about tickets and season passes, open skates, figure skating lessons, hockey lessons for all ages, youth hockey, pick-up hockey games for adults, special events and more can be found at www.siskiyourink.org. FOR is also considering running the afterschool program for Sisson student skaters.