ST. GEORGE — The Iron County Commission and the Southern Utah Youth & Enthusiasts Together for Ice nonprofit group recently reached an agreement that will allow YETI to construct a natural freeze ice rink on county property located at Woods Ranch Recreation Area on state Route-14 in Cedar Canyon.
The proposal was first brought to the county commission in August when Kerry Fain, president of YETI, laid out the initial details for the rink that will take the place of The Glacier ice rink formally located at the Cedar City Aquatic Center.
The nonprofit group started The Glacier ice rink before it was handed over to Staheli Management.
In March, the Cedar City Council terminated its lease with Staheli Management in order to construct a multipurpose center on the space where the rink was located at the Aquatic Center. The Glacier’s last day of operation was in February.
After losing the space at the Aquatic Center and with no new permanent structure in sight, Fain said she approached the County Commission because she felt like the kids who had been using the rink for activities such as youth hockey were going to be left out in the cold.
“It was a bleak prospect coming into the year,” Fain said.
The rink, she said, provided a safe space for kids, many of whom may not have had another place to go for extracurricular activities.
“It gives a lot of kids somewhere to be and a secondary family,” she said. “We were really concerned we would have a lot of them suffering.”
In past seasons the youth hockey league has had over 150 participants, the learn-to-skate program with just over 100 participants, an adult hockey league of more than 150 players, a competitive high school hockey team and a club team at Southern Utah University.
To that end, Fain proposed the idea of the agreement between the nonprofit group and the county to construct a temporary and seasonal natural freeze ice rink at the Woods Ranch Recreation area.
“Woods Ranch seemed to make the most sense,” she said, adding that the infrastructure was already in place and that it was cold enough in the canyon for the ice to freeze.
The agreement allows the organization to lease a small portion of the recreation area to construct the rink, which will host youth hockey programs, practices and matches.
The rink will also be free and open to the public during operating hours, which are set to be Mondays through Saturdays from 7 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. There will be no skate rentals on site.
YETI will maintain the rink and associated facilities, including garbage removal and weekly restroom cleaning, and the county will allow the use of the land. County officials also provided a road grader to level the meadow where the rink will be located.
A small amount of electricity will be pulled from the county to operate a few LED lights, County Commission Paul Cozzens told Cedar City News. He said the county has agreed to this, as it will make a minimal difference in the electric bill.
A full copy of the agreement can be found here.
Cozzens has been a vocal supporter of the ice rink and is excited about the opportunities the agreement presents both for residents of the county as well as tourists who visit the area during the winter.
“We need more economic activity in the winter for Cedar City,” he said, adding that The Glacier was a big draw for people outside the county, and while the natural rink won’t be as big of an attraction, it will help.
“If they can make it successful and provide a benefit for the public. I think it’s wonderful.” Cozzens said.
Fain said she is grateful to the County Commission, who unanimously approved the agreement in their Oct. 12 commission meeting.
“It’s really neat that the county has jumped on this project so wholeheartedly,” she said.
As they move closer to a new season, the nonprofit has created a Save the Ice 2020 fundraiser that will go toward new boards for this season and future infrastructure at the Woods Ranch site. As of Tuesday, the GoFundMe is over halfway toward it’s $10,000 goal.
Site preparation started last week, and Fain said the organization anticipates that skating should begin in about a month – weather permitting.
“We are so excited,” she said.
More information about the organization’s youth hockey programs and updated progress on the ice rink can be found on the Southern Utah YETI Facebook page.
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