Outdoor skating rink may return to Tupper Lake

TUPPER LAKE – The village board here wants to bring an outdoor ice skating rink back to Tupper Lake.

The idea is still in its preliminary stages – the dimensions and exact location of the rink have yet to be determined – but village Mayor Paul Maroun said he’d like to see it move forward soon.

Maroun reminded village officials at Monday’s board meeting that there was talk last year of installing the rink near the Tupper Lake Memorial Civic Center on Santa Clara Avenue.

“That was the agreement that we talked about last year,” Maroun said. “It would be open when the civic center is open, that way they (ice skaters) could go in and warm up. They could use the restrooms and buy things from the concession stand.”

If that plan were to take shape, the village would be responsible for installing lighting, constructing the rink and putting ice down, but the rink would be maintained by civic center employees.

The proposed plan isn’t as simple as it sounds, though. The Tupper Lake Central School District owns the civic center, and Superintendent Seth McGowan is worried the rink would be an unnecessary cost for the district.

“I was more optimistic last year, but with the defeat of the budget, we’ve made significant cuts,” McGowan told the Enterprise. “We’re trying to reduce costs all around. I’d be hard-pressed to say it’s a done deal if it’s going to cost us anything in man hours or labor or any other expenses.”

McGowan added that he’s open to the idea as long as there is a way to pay for it that doesn’t detract from other things.

“I’d have to look into it and see what the costs would be and see if there was any way to defray those costs right now,” McGowan said. “I love the idea, but if it’s at the expense of something instructional, and at this point everything is at the expense of something instructional, then I wouldn’t want to commit to it now.”

Maroun said the rink wouldn’t weigh the district’s budget down.

“Personally, I don’t believe this, but there is some feeling with the people at the school that the civic center isn’t paying its way, therefore it’s helping to draw down on the budget,” Maroun said. “I don’t buy into that. I have not heard that, and I think I’m around town a lot more than any school board member or principal or superintendent, and I just don’t hear that.”

Undeterred, Maroun said the village would think about relocating the proposed rink if the civic center location proves to be a dead end.

“If that’s their concern, and they want to highlight it, than we’re going to do something near the (municipal) park,” Maroun said. “I want an answer relatively quickly, and if not we’re going to move ahead.”

Maroun said he wasn’t sure where the rink would go in the park, but once a location was determined he said the village could easily install temporary lighting there.

Maroun added that the municipal park had an outdoor ice skating rink when he was growing up.

Trustee David “Haji” Maroun is a staunch supporter of the rink, and said he would take the reigns once a plan takes shape.

“I’ll oversee it,” David said. “If it was up to me it’d be in the park anyway, but right now I’d take anything.”