Sammy Sezak, 10, of Cape Elizabeth works on his stick-handling skills last winter at the outdoor rink at Gull Crest Fields. A donor paid for the rink’s operational costs for its inaugural season. Ben McCanna / Portland Press Herald

The nonprofit group looking to build a community ice arena in Cape Elizabeth has asked the town to pay for the electrical expenses for its temporary rink this winter.

The Cape Community Arena Group and its volunteers managed a temporary outdoor rink last season at the proposed site for the arena adjacent to Gull Crest Fields. They provided open skate sessions, skating and hockey lessons, and provided much-needed ice time for the schools’ ice hockey teams.

They plan to open the rink in December, a month earlier than last year.

One donor funded the construction and operation of the rink last year. While the infrastructure, such as the base of the rink and surrounding amenities, can be reused, the group has to fund all of its operational costs this year, which includes electricity.

“We are operating on municipal property and the town has a negotiated rate with their supplier,” said Julie Furt, chairperson of the arena group. “That is much more cost-effective than what we can get on the open market as a small customer.”

The town estimates that if it were to take on the expense with its rate of less than 14 cents per kilowatt-hour, it would cost $32,000 for the season, about $43,000 less than what the rink would have to pay.


“We want the group that’s organizing this to be successful,” Town Council Chairperson Jeremy Gabrielson told The Forecaster on Wednesday. “If we can find a way to help reduce their operating costs so that they can concentrate on capital fundraising and long-term operations, I think that’s ultimately good.”

At a meeting last month, the council tabled the group’s request to give town staff time to explore a method for the nonprofit to reimburse the town.

“I don’t know what the exact tool that we use to get there is, but hopefully with the information that we’ve asked them to come back to the October meeting with, we’ll be able to make a better decision about what the right way to assist is,” Gabrielson said.

The $43,000 in savings, Furt said, can help the group continue to provide plenty of ice time for the public and school teams this winter.

“We’re confident that we can rent out ice and, with that revenue, can cover our operating costs but, as a community-based nonprofit, that’s not our end goal,” Furt said. “Our end goal is not to rent a bunch of ice. It’s to be able to have that open to the community and have that community impact.”

Furt said the group has been working on obtaining sponsorships this summer for a number of improvements this year. Those include a second warming hut and changing area, modular rink dividers, LED lighting for hockey lines on the ice and improved viewing areas.

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