The parking lot at the corner of Front and Oak streets is one of four sites being considered for a portable ice skating rink this winter following a recommendation by the Port Angeles Lodging Tax Committee on Monday. (Jesse Major/Peninsula Daily News)

The parking lot at the corner of Front and Oak streets is one of four sites being considered for a portable ice skating rink this winter following a recommendation by the Port Angeles Lodging Tax Committee on Monday. (Jesse Major/Peninsula Daily News)

Port Angeles considers downtown ice skating rink

PORT ANGELES — A rented, portable ice skating rink lies on the horizon that organizers hope will attract 200 skaters a day from Clallam and Jefferson counties — and Victoria, B.C. — from the Saturday before Thanksgiving to the Sunday after New Year’s Day 2019.

The Port Angeles Lodging Tax Advisory Committee took action Monday that could lead to the temporary rink becoming a reality.

The committee unanimously recommended that the City Council approve a Port Angeles Regional Chamber of Commerce request for $35,000 in lodging tax proceeds for the 82-foot-by-40-foot aluminum rink.

It would be a down payment for the rink that is due by the end of July.

The chamber, which would have volunteers manage the 3,280-square-foot rink, would seek another $15,000 in lodging taxes for 2018 for the rink later this summer.

The chamber would rent the rink from Seaside Ice LLC, doing business as Ice-America of Harbor City, Calif., under a one-year contract for $120,000.

Ice-America is seeking an option for three, one-year extensions with 2.5 percent cost-of-living increases.

It’s part of a $130,000 project being proposed for one of four downtown locations Nov. 24 to Jan. 6.

The chamber estimates that 1,000 visits will be made by people who will travel more than 50 miles to Port Angeles for ice skating, that 500 of those visits will be overnight stays, and that there will be 8,600 visits to the rink in the 43 days of operation.

The rink could hold up to 131 skaters per session. Sessions could cost $12 to $20 per 90-minute session of open skating with rentals, according to the application.

Potential sites are City Pier, two M.V. Coho ferry parking lot areas on Front Street straddled by Station 51 Taphouse between Oak and Laurel streets, and the parking lot across from Station 51 between Family Shoe Store and Odyssey Bookshop on Front Street.

“We are holding off on engaging staff in a serious study for location until we have a green light through funding,” according to the chamber’s application for funding.

Nonvoting lodging tax committee member Mary Sue French said the lot across from Taphouse is too heavily used by motorists and City Pier might be too cold — although the Pier has ready access to restrooms.

The City Council will consider the proposal, which city staff also recommended for approval, at its July 18 meeting, which has moved from the regular July 17 date.

“The chances are that this will go through, and it’s especially because, I think, in general, [council members] do appreciate new efforts to bring tourists into the community,” Mayor Sissi Bruch, one of the four voting members who recommended approval, said after the meeting.

The project also would be funded with $60,000 in ticket sales, the largest single revenue component of the $130,000.

An additional $10,000 would come from contributions and sponsorships in $100 increments, and $10,000 from corporate sponsors and rink rentals for group gatherings.

French said the community has been looking for this kind of project.

“A lot of people are asking for something like this,” she said.

“I think this is a really cool opportunity,” said David Mattern, also a nonvoting member.

He asked how it was determined there would be 1,000 visits by skaters who live more than 50 miles away — that’s about the distance between Port Townsend and Port Angeles.

The number was “really based on experience more than anything else,” responded Marc Abshire, chamber of commerce executive director.

The chamber runs the Port Angeles Visitor Center.

“I tend to estimate pretty conservatively,” Abshire added.

Abshire said the chamber would cover costs for music and lighting, volunteers would staff the rink, and marketing would focus on social media, with the pitch including information about what else is available downtown.

“We are accepting the risk because we feel we will be able to cover the cost with ticket sales,” Abshire said after the meeting.

Chamber Vice President Jim Haguewood said after the meeting that 8,600 visits to the rink is “very conservative” given its six-week duration and the success of events such as the fall-season annual Dungeness Crab & Seafood Festival.

“What the chamber is trying to do is trying to bring value in and do things of significance,” Haguewood said.

“This is something of significance.

“It’s large, it’s beneficial to the community, it builds a sense of community and excitement.”

Haguewood said the chamber, which will manage the rink, will draw on Ice America’s expertise for a ticket-sales strategy.

“We are really trying hard to build a winter economy here, and this is a big part of that,” Abshire said.

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Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 55650, or at [email protected].

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