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New ice rink means return of South Portland winter festival

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New ice rink means return of South Portland winter festival

SOUTH PORTLAND — A winter festival is back on the horizon after city councilors Monday accepted a $15,000 donation to build an outdoor skating rink at the Wainwright Fields off Highland Avenue.

The money comes from the Soucy family, owners of Port Harbor Marine at Spring Point, and was donated to the Rotary Club of South Portland-Cape Elizabeth, which then donated it to the city.

The donation was the largest ever received by the club.

In a news release, Port Harbor Marine owner Rob Soucy said the donation was a good way to help the city.

"As life-long residents of South Portland, and having owned and operated a family business here for over 35 years, we felt the ice rink was a great way to give back to the city," Soucy said.

City Manager Jim Gailey said the 20,000-square-foot rink will mean the recreation area will be used year-round.

"This ice rink is going to be the cornerstone of winter activities at Wainwright." Gailey said.

After warm weather thwarted a winter festival at Mill Creek Park in 2012, Rotary members decided against having one this year. Now, the city and Rotary will collaborate to bring back the festival next year.

City Parks and Recreation Director Rick Towle said the rink, which will not be refrigerated, will initially be built at a new playground near Gary L. Maietta Parkway, but will likely be moved to a new site for winter 2015.

The rink will be lit, and operated with specific programming times allotted for general skaters and hockey players, Towle said.

In other business:

• Councilors also unanimously approved a 7:30 a.m.-4 p.m. weekday parking ban on South Kelsey street near James O. Kaler Elementary School. The ban extends from 145 South Kelsey St. to the school on the west side of the street, and 110 feet from the school on the east side of the street.

• The purchase of a new ambulance was also approved as councilors accepted a $192,000 bid from Madawaska-based Autotronics for a 2014 GM vehicle expected to be delivered next spring. The current capital improvements budget allocated $200,000 for the purchase.

• Councilor Jerry Jalbert's appointment of Kathleen Phillips LaBombard to the Planning Board was unanimously approved. LaBombard replaces former board Chairwoman Molly Butler Bailey, who has moved to Gorham.

Councilor Linda Cohen presided over Monday's meeting because Mayor Tom Blake had throat problems and was unable to speak.

David Harry can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 110 or dharry@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @DavidHarry8.