Palouse Ice Rink begins plans for a permanent building
Chris Storhok loves his job because he gets the chance to watch children learn to skate for the first time.
“I love watching people learn to skate,” Storhok said. “Often you see a little kid come in here, wobbly ankles, all nervous. And then by the end of their first session they’re moving around, just happier than anything, giant smiles on their face.”
As manager for the Palouse Ice Rink, Storhok has many responsibilities. As of right now, however, Storhok said his biggest concerns lie in transitioning the ice rink into a roller rink for the summer and raising money to fund the construction for a permanent building to house the rink.
The rink opens for roller-skating today after going through its transition period all of last week.
Every summer since the rink first opened in 2002, volunteers flocked to the rink to help the rest of the staff transition the rink from one meant for ice-skating into one meant for roller-skating. Storhok said the transition period normally lasts one week, but about 80-90 hours of work is put into it in total.
“It’s a lot of work,” he said. “Getting the ice out is the most tedious of tasks, because you literally have to remove all the water that’s frozen as ice, clean out the paint, the lines, the emblems, get that floor cleaned off.”
This way of operating is long past its lifetime, Storhok said. Currently, Storhok has developed a business plan for a full sized, permanent building for an ice rink. The plan is in the fundraising stage.
Storhok said they have about $300,000 raised as of right now, and they’re hoping for about $4.2 million to begin construction sometime in 2016. Storhok said he and his staff are planning to use this summer as a period to raise as much money as they can, so they’re planning some fundraising events to take place in the coming months.
There are many benefits to constructing a permanent building for an ice rink, Storhok said. It would bring huge economic benefits, lowering the operation costs as well as the cost of personnel. The University of Idaho and Washington State University hockey teams would also have a permanent home.
“For ice-skating, we’re it,” he said. “We’re the only spot between Moscow and Pullman.”
Storhok said a permanent building would bring benefits to their customers as well. He said there would be fewer noise restrictions and they would be able to be open later than when they currently have to close at 10 p.m.
Storhok said above anything else, he is just grateful to their customers and the involvement of the UI community.
“We appreciate the support of the U of I students,” Storhok said. “They’re a loyal group. Many of the fraternities and sororities use this in the winter as a rental for activities, and we always enjoy hosting them and the great times they have — even the residence halls have been in and out a few times.”
Erin Bamer can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @ErinBamer