NARRAGANSETT – Sharpen your skates and grab your hockey pads – a new public ice-skating rink is coming to town. The chamber of commerce recently announced the development and will utilize leftover monies from the state’s “Take It Outside” initiative to fund the purchase.

“The chamber had come forward to [Narragansett Parks and Recreation Director] Steve Wright and myself wishing to use the ‘Take It Outside’ funding that they received to purchase a synthetic ice rink that we could use at town facilities, at town events,” said Narragansett Town Manager James Tierney. “Steve thought it was a great idea, I did too. I briefed Jesse [Pugh, Narragansett Town Council President] and a few people on the council were aware of it.”

As part of the state’s “Take It Outside” initiative, which provided funding to municipalities to help transfer public operations of towns and private operations of businesses, namely restaurants, outside, the Town of Narragansett received a total of $68,800, all of which was spent between local businesses, nonprofit organizations and town departments. The Narragansett Chamber of Commerce, meanwhile, received an additional grant of $50,000 from the state.

In December, the town cancelled its annual Festival of Lights holiday event, which traditionally serves as an opportunity for local vendors, artisans and businesses to sell their products, due to the COVID-19 pandemic as case counts were surging across the state. According to Narragansett Chamber of Commerce Operations Director Peg Fradette, the majority of the $50,000 grant was used to redesign the event to be largely outside and socially distanced, and then when it was cancelled, to bring the online – with the chamber setting up a website, serving as a curbside pickup site and advertising the arts and crafts for sale virtually.

“It took a fair amount of money upfront to plan the event, but we could not recoup all of it, but we did recoup some and then we had monies that we did not use,” said Fradette. “Having said that, rather than lose the money, the board and I decided that we would try to do something for the community with that money nonetheless.”

“The ice-skating rink is something that we’ve all been talking about for years,” she added. “I know it’s long been a request of the community at large.”

According to the chamber, about $22,000 remains from the “Take It Outside” grant and will be put toward the purchase of the synthetic skating rink. Synthetic skating rinks differ from traditional rinks in that they are self-lubricating and not made up of real ice, and built to mimic the substance. Because of this, synthetic ice rinks can be located, built and maintained easier and cheaper, have less of an effect on the environment and can be utilized, theoretically, throughout the year.

Fradette said the new rink could be utilized by local organizations.

“We see the ice-skating rink as something to be shared with all of the organizational partners in the town for any events so long as they’re sanctioned by state and local government,” she said.

About $5,000 is needed in addition to the $22,000 to complete the purchase, the difference mostly being shipping costs, and the chamber of commerce is currently soliciting sponsorships and fundraising to complete the purchase. Even if the $5,000 isn’t raised, the Chamber will still fund the purchase, according to Fradette.

The chamber is working with the town’s parks and recreation department to determine storage of the rink, its construction and maintenance. The rink is proposed to be installed at Veterans Memorial Park, next to the Towers, on Ocean Road.  

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