Falmouth ice rink short of time, funding

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FALMOUTH — Facing a $150,000 fundraising gap and a construction delay, the group behind a proposed ice hockey rink now says it won’t be opening for at least another year.

Foundation work for the proposed Casco Bay Arena, on Hat Trick Drive behind Wal-Mart, is expected to be completed this year, but then all construction will be called off until April 2015.

The hope now is to have the rink operational by next October.

Casco Bay Hockey Association President John Veilleux last week said the group “missed their window,” and rather than put the project at risk by continuing work, it decided to finish what they could and save the rest for spring.

“It’s much easier to plan right now for the worst case and button up all the site work, and not have to worry about the potential for the a significant problem with the slab,” Veilleux said. 

He said a late start and engineering problems with the footings meant the slab foundation wouldn’t be poured until late November or early December. Veilleux said the slab needs 30 days when it is not exposed to freezing temperatures, which isn’t likely to happen this year.

Veilleux said most of the foundation work will be completed in the next few weeks before work stops for the winter. By April 1, general contractor PATCO can pour the slab and raise the building, he said.

There had been talks about putting the building up before winter, but Veilleux said it made absolutely no economic sense, and they would rather “take the prudent course and give ourselves enough time to get it exactly right.”

Veilleux said the rink would have had limited capacity since the warming areas wouldn’t have been completed, it would have been a shortened season of about a month and a half, which meant less revenue. And had the slab been rushed, there could have been even more delays or serious financial problems.

“It’s a little disappointing certainly not be able to skate this year, but I think it’s the right decision,” he said. 

Nonprofit CBHA is also behind in its fundraising for the project.

The Town Council unanimously approved the plan for the rink on May 28, with a projected total cost of $2 million. Veilleux said roughly $1.75 million is coming from financing.

By August the organization had raised $100,000, but it still needs an additional $150,000 to complete construction and to show lenders there is support for the rink. 

Veilleux said CBHA has a “facilities service agreement” with the existing Falmouth Family Ice Center to manage the arena; Family Ice will supply Zamboni drivers and someone to keep the building maintained.

“Every hour we’re operating we’ll have a Family Ice employee present,” Veilleux said. “It’s an ice management agreement, so they are really a partner now with us with the operations of the rink as a rink itself.”

Casco Bay Hockey is a Portland-based youth hockey organization with more than 800 players and 150 volunteer coaches. It now uses ice time at North Yarmouth Academy, Family Ice and the Portland Ice Arena.

Colin Ellis can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 123 or cellis@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @colinoellis.

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Foundation work for the Casco Bay Arena on Hat Trick Drive in Falmouth will mostly be completed in the coming weeks, but construction will then cease until April 2015.

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Reporter covering the Portland Public School District as well as the town of Falmouth for The Forecaster. Can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 123 or cellis@theforecaster.net.