Four years ago, the future of New Haven’s Ralph Walker Ice Skating Rink was uncertain.
This weekend it will reopen after months of renovations.
Skate rentals will be available during open skates for the public and private groups like local hockey teams will also able to rent ice time.
“When we thought nobody cared about this facility, that if we closed it no one would raise objection and we learned the hard way that people love this facility, they are willing for us to pay for it,” New Haven Mayor Toni Harp (D) said Friday.
The city conducted an economic feasibility study.
“The study itself captured some of the things that were important to make the rink a destination and a feasible enterprise,” said Rebecca Bombero, director of New Haven’s Department of Parks, Recreation and Trees.
City Engineer Giovanni Zinn said the city spent $3 million in taxpayer money on phase one of the renovations and $400,000 remediation before the work began.
“We’re most proud of how it looks and bringing the outdoors in and quality of the product,” Zinn said.
With a view of East Rock, the rink has been expanded. Next season, it will become the home ice for the Albertus Magnus Division 3 hockey team.
“Now having a regulation-size ice sheet we’ll be paving the parking lot have team facilities and showers all enable the rental market to increase for this facility,” Zinn said.
Zinn said they took safety into account when selecting the new glass dasher boards.
“Especially in youth sports injuries such a concern,” he said, “so we really invested in the type of boards that minimize impact young players especially feel.”
City officials are holding a grand re-opening ceremony Saturday at 1:30 p.m. followed by a police versus fire hockey scrimmage. The first public skate is expected to start around 4 p.m.
In mid-March, the rink will close again for a second phase of renovations that includes new locker rooms.