Ice dreams continue at the STIC
Three weeks – $50,000. Who is willing to contribute? Only a handful of people turned out for a meeting to decide the fate of the South Tahoe Ice Center Wednesday night. Most contributed ideas and supported re-opening the ice rink.
STIC President John Wareham has called upon the community to donate money so the ice center doesn’t sink. Those who attended said they believe their neighbors will step up and help out.
“I think this will take off because people are dying to have an ice rink here,” said Kirk Thompson.
Mired in $400,000 of unpaid bills, it’s crunch time for Wareham, who has had his share of bad luck. Funding wasn’t secured by the grand opening of the rink last year, prompting creditors to knock on Wareham’s door. Construction costs, alone, continued to build, with the latest estimate owed to V & C Construction at more than $200,000. Bad weather also limited operations and damage to the infrastructure occurred.
Leased by the city for the nominal 5 percent of operating revenues, Wareham has until Saturday, Nov. 1 or the city will foreclose on the 1.25-acre property. He estimates he will lose more than $100,000 in out-of-pocket expenses because of this venture.
He believes the center will make money, if and when it opens. The only way that could happen this late in the game is to establish a non-profit organization. He said a group of seven to 10 unconfirmed residents will meet this Saturday “to come up with a plan.”
The group will have to make a presentation at the Oct. 21 City Council meeting in order to appease the STIC’s landlord. Without a last-minute plan, a legal battle likely will ensue between the contractor and city. The city could be prohibited from using the land until Van Winkle is paid.
Steve Yonkers, South Lake Tahoe Chamber of Commerce, commended Wareham for his effort but asked why the community wasn’t approached sooner.
“You beat yourself up outside Tahoe when it sounded like you had the support here,” he said. “People here simply don’t know what is happening. Residents are generous in this community.”
Jackie Donaldson said what the STIC needs is a benefactor with a deep wallet but she understands if residents bring the rink from the depths of debt, they can claim it’s truly theirs. She even suggested the casinos play a part in the rink’s rebirth.
“We have an urgent need to get funding in a short amount of time,” she said. “It’s time for the casinos to give back. I’m sure they would get pretty good publicity.”
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