Skating rink proposed atop NEH tennis courts

MOUNT DESERT — A proposal to install a removable ice-skating rink on top of the tennis courts at the Northeast Harbor Marina will soon go to the Select Board for approval. 

The idea originated early in the COVID-19 pandemic with Northeast Harbor resident and business owner Erika Wibby Mitchell. 

“With kids being stuck inside all day and on computers all the time, I thought it would be nice to have an outdoor activity here in town in the winter for them,” she said. “I think it will be fun for anybody, but particularly for some of these kids to just to grab their skates after school and come down and be able to skate right in town.” 

She said the tennis courts are an ideal place for a skating rink. They are level; they are enclosed; there are restrooms nearby and a source of water for refreshing the ice now and then. 

Last year, Wibby Mitchell and Kathy Miller, executive director of Mount Desert 365, got a small group of people together to take up the cause. 

“There’s a lot of interest, and I’m really hopeful that we’ll get it for this winter,” Wibby Mitchell said. 

The idea is that private funds will be donated to buy the materials for the skating rink, and those materials will be given to the town. The town’s Economic Development Committee has endorsed the concept. 

Miller said the skating rink is not a project of MD365, which aims to boost the town’s year-round vitality, but she definitely supports it. 

“With climate change, there are fewer and fewer days when skating on a big pond is possible or safe,” she said. “So, some place in town for that purpose would be perfect. 

“From an economic development point of view, this could be an attraction that brings people to town and increases foot traffic.”  

Miller said volunteers would set up the ice rink on the tennis courts in the winter when the courts are not otherwise in use and remove it when the skating season is over. 

“We’re going to be asking the Select Board to consider having a skating rink on this site, without any taxpayer money going to it, before we start seriously raising funds,” she said. 

She said donated funds might go through the town’s Community Development Corporation, which is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization, so donations would be tax deductible. 

The corporation’s stated mission is “promotion of the health and well-being of the residents of the town of Mount Desert through public infrastructure improvements, historic preservation and community beautification efforts, and other activities that foster a healthy and sustainable year-round community.” 

Dick Broom

Dick Broom

Reporter at Mount Desert Islander
Dick Broom covers the towns of Mount Desert and Southwest Harbor, Mount Desert Island High School and the school system board and superintendent's office. He enjoys hiking with his golden retriever and finding new places for her to swim. [email protected]
Dick Broom

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