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Think rink

Ice skating coming to Folsom Historic District
By: Roger Phelps, The Telegraph
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Giving old meaning to the word skate in Folsom will be a 5,000 square-foot ice rink. The cool idea has slipped smoothly through city planning and could, uh, gel in the historic district before Thanksgiving Day. A rectangular rink will measure 80 feet by 60 feet. Money is lined up, and deals are struck among a trio of non-profits, the city and skating rink builder Ice Unlimited, Inc. It is hoped the rink can open just before Thanksgiving Day. “If the weather cooperates, we’ll make it,” said Rob Ferth, president of Ice Unlimited. “We need not windy, and limited rain. We have to set up an insulation base, with parts that catch the wind and blow around. The wind is the main thing.” It is expected skaters will flock even from neighboring counties to hit the ice, said Sally Howard, marketing and media director for the Folsom Chamber of Commerce, which will operate the rink and is one source of start-up money. Then, some rink-goers would hit nearby Sutter Street to grab warming drinks and tackle a little Christmas shopping, organizers’ thinking goes. “It was our CEO Joe Gagliardi’s idea,” Howard said. “It’s on a fast track, and everybody’s very excited.” Initial costs of $80,000 for the planned skating surface will be split among the chamber, the city redevelopment agency and non-profits Folsom Historic District Association and Folsom Tourism Bureau. Ferth said rink ice is built up and maintained by super-chilling a set of pipes by circulating 10-degree sea water through them, spraying the pipes with fresh water, letting resulting ice set and repeating the process. “We build it up until it’s thick enough to skate on,” Ferth said. Howard said a Chamber of Commerce promotion will link rink privileges with access to Sierra Nevada ski lifts. “It’s the chamber’s ‘Chill and Thrill’ promotion,” she said. It is planned that the rink will operate through nearly the end of January 2009. “The chamber estimates the total cost to operate the ice rink during the season at $248,000,” wrote Everett Palmer, assistant city manager, in a report to City Council members. “The Chamber anticipates the ice rink operations to draw approximately 25,000 participants and generate approximately $180,000 in gate receipts.” City staff members estimate that the expected commercial benefit a rink would bring in Folsom could reach as high as an additional $375,000 in retail sales, according to Palmer. “While this level of economic activity will provide a modest increase in sales-tax revenue to the city of Folsom, staff anticipates a larger positive impact of increased retail patronage within the city, particularly within the redevelopment agency’s boundaries, during the holiday shopping,” Palmer wrote. Palmer said the maximum Folsom Redevelopment Agency money participation would be $50,000. Of that, $25,000 will come in an economic-development grant and up to $25,000 will come in loan form to be repaid from profits. The Telegraph’s Roger Phelps can be reached at rogerp@goldcountrymedia.com or post a comment at folsomtelegraph.com. --- by the numbers Folsom Ice Skating Rink Operating costs: $248,000* Ticket sales: $180,000* Retail sales boost: $375,000* Operation timeframe: Thanksgiving through end of January 2009. *All figures are estimates.