Breaking the ice at a groundbreaking event |

Breaking the ice at a groundbreaking event

South Lake Tahoe got one step closer to fulfilling a dream during a groundbreaking ceremony Monday for the South Lake Tahoe ice rink.

The 37,000-square-foot ice rink and multipurpose recreation facility is part of a vision that was developed years ago by the South Tahoe Alliance for Recreation, or STAR, a group of dedicated individuals who wanted to improve recreational opportunities at South Shore.

“I really think the stars have lined up and things have gone well,” said John Upton, a consultant for the recreation project and key player in the recreational plan.

Mayor Hal Cole said he was impressed by the turnout at the seasonal ice rink, which was built in 1996 and soon folded. With the new facility, he said, the rewards will be far greater.

“I saw an underfunded low-budget operation and saw hundreds of families enjoy it,” Cole said. “And although the skating was marginal, it really made me realize, if you build it they will come. Now we are building a first-class facility, and I can only imagine how many families will enjoy it.”

The new rink will be at the same site next to the recreation complex at 1176 Rufus Allen Blvd.

Members of the City Council, Chamber of Commerce, and proponents of the bond measure that enabled the project dug dirt, symbolically representing the start of a new era for recreation in South Lake Tahoe.

The ice rink is the largest of four recreational components in the bond measure, approved by South Shore voters in the Measure S election last fall. Other components include maintenance money for bike trails, improvements to Tahoe Paradise Resort Improvement District, and multi-purpose ball fields.

The ice rink, estimated to cost $4.35 million, is scheduled for completion at the end of January, said City Engineer Brad Vidro.

Steve Weiss, park and recreation superintendent, and recreation commissioners John Thomaselli, Dan McLaughlin and Stephen Reinhard were also on hand.

“It’s been about a six-year process to get a stable facility, and I think this is it,” Weiss said.

The ice rink is slated to provide a National Hockey League regulation size rink with bleacher seating for nearly 250 people. It will be a complete self-contained facility with rental rooms for birthday parties and conventions, a pro-shop, skate rental area, locker rooms, snack shop and video arcade.

McLaughlin and Thomaselli talked about the prospects of additional uses for the ice rink while observing architectural drawings of the structure.

“It’s not a secret that the ice rink can be used for other purposes besides ice,” McLaughlin said. McLaughlin talked about the potential for a volleyball tournament.

“Now we got something we really need,” he said. “It puts us on the map. Now we’re set for recreation.”

Thomaselli discussed the possibility of the facility to host BMX races and freestyle events.

“It’s just another exhibition sport to expose people to the community, because (BMX) is the fastest growing sport,” Thomaselli said.

Most in attendance spoke of how the structure will broaden options for kids, giving them more recreational opportunities and keep them out of trouble.

“I’m really, really happy I’m here, mostly as a parent,” said Sue Novasel, a co-chair on the STAR board that created the Measure S recreation plan.

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