Year-round ice skating downtown?

DRAWING COURTESY OF MARTIN SENDLEWSKI | An artist rendering of the ice skating rink being floated for downtown Riverhead.
DRAWING COURTESY OF MARTIN SENDLEWSKI | An artist rendering of the ice skating rink being floated for downtown Riverhead.

Town and business officials are making a big push to bring a year-round ice skating rink downtown, saying such a facility could also be used for concerts, weddings and other events along the Peconic River behind East Main Street.

The Riverhead Town Board voted unanimously Tuesday to support an application with Suffolk County to secure up to $100,000 in downtown revitalization grant money for the project, or apply for other programs to help fund the rink’s construction and maintenance. Grant money will be sought by the Business Improvement District, a downtown commercial taxing district, and the Riverhead Community Development Agency.

“The ice skating rink that we want to do has artificial ice,” BID management association president Ray Pickersgill told the Town Board during a public work session last Thursday. “We’ve done a lot of research on it, and it’s a great product. There’s really very little cost, once you purchase it, in maintaining it.”

Real ice is very expensive to maintain, he said, and is typically usable only about 12 weeks a year.

“Greenport spends $40,000 just for the electricity [at its municipal ice rink],” Mr. Pickersgill said. “And we could use ours all the time.”

While the artificial ice could be used for skating year-round, it also could be covered with ordinary carpeting and used for other events, like weddings or concerts, he said.

“Can you imagine weddings on Main Street, on the riverfront? That would be pretty neat,” Supervisor Sean Walter said.
The project probably will cost about $200,000, according to Councilman George Gabrielsen, who has also been working on the ice rink project since last year. Mr. Pickersgill said the BID, which has an annual budget of about $140,000, has about $200,000 in surplus from previous years, which could be applied toward the ice rink.

The BID’s long range goal is to build an open-air pavilion over the ice rink that could be used for concerts and events. A pavilion plan has been floating around for about three years.

The proposed location for the rink would be the south end of the unnamed road that leads into the riverfront parking lot, between the Riverhead Grill and the former marine store site.

Councilman Jim Wooten said his only concerns with the plan were that eight parking spots would be lost and that, in the future, if downtown is developed as officials hope, this might not be the best spot for the rink.

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