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Will be at end of pier first weekend in January

By KATIE FITZPATRICK

Staff writer

County residents will be able to enjoy ice skating a little closer to home during the first weekend in January.

The North Beach Town Council, sans council members Greg Dotson and Greg McNeil, during a Dec. 6 work session, voted to rent an ice skating rink with synthetic ice from Fantasy World Entertainment from Friday, Jan. 4, to Sunday, Jan. 6, 2013, said Mayor Mark Frazer in a phone interview Friday.

Frazer said the idea to have an ice skating rink in the town was brought up by the town staff. He said the 24-by-40-foot rink will be set up at the end of the pier and will allow people to feel like they are “skating over the Chesapeake Bay.” The rink will take up about a third of the pier, he said, and will be supervised by Fantasy World Entertainment employees.

Admission will be $5, Frazer said, and ice skates will be available to rent for $3. Frazer said those rates are “the usual rates” used by other rinks in Maryland and it is necessary to charge admission because it will cost the town about $5,000 to rent the rink.

Tentative hours, depending on the weather, are from 4 to 6 p.m. Friday, Jan. 4, 2013, from noon to 10 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 5, 2013, and from noon to 6 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 6, 2013, said council member Ken Wilcox. Between 18 and 20 people at a time will be allowed on the rink to skate, he said.

Wilcox said barriers will be set up around the rink and there will be about 7 feet of space between the barrier and the pier railing. He said it is “way beyond expected” for anyone to accidentally fall off of the pier.

“It’ll be safe,” he said. “There’ll be three [Fantasy World Entertainment] attendants at any time … who are trained and made aware of how to deal with any sort of difficulties.”

Wilcox said the rink will be set up just two days after the Polar Bear Plunge. Like Frazer, Wilcox said the council voted to rent the rink for a weekend to generate “some more wintertime activities” for the town.

“I think it’s a great opportunity for the town’s people,” Wilcox said. “I think it’s been very good that the mayor and council have been very willing to experiment, try new ideas, new ways of doing some things, bringing new activities to the town.”

“I don’t know how many places people can ice skate and look over the bay at the same time,” Wilcox said.

Council member Randy Hummel said he was not aware, prior to the work session, that artificial ice existed, but was willing to try renting the rink for one weekend.

“If it’s something that we can provide that maybe brings people down, we might as well try it and if it doesn’t work out, then it doesn’t work out,” Hummel said. “… We’ll just see what happens.”

The goal of the council, said council member Mike Benton, is to provide more amenities for town residents, which is one thing that having the ice skating rink will do. Benton said it’s also a great way to promote the town during “the off season.”

“I think it’s a wonderful idea,” Benton said. “I hope to see the locals use it [and] get out and enjoy it. I think [it] … could also attract individuals who usually come in the summer time and don’t come in the winter because of the weather.”

Depending on the response to the rink, Frazer said, the town may consider purchasing its own synthetic ice rink and “mak[ing] it an all winter thing.”

“If it’s successful, we won’t be renting from Fantasy World [Entertainment],” Frazer said. “What the town will do is we’ll purchase our own synthetic ice panels and put them down for a couple months each winter.”

If the town decides to purchase its own synthetic ice, Frazer said it will help bring people to the town during the winter months “because basically we have no events then,” and when the weather gets warmer they will be put in storage.

In other news:

ź Frazer said the council voted to proceed with filing the articles of incorporation for the North Beach Performing Arts Center Foundation, the nonprofit organization that will manage the theater for the performing arts center. He said the nonprofit will actively begin fundraising and finalizing the design for the theater in 2013; and

ź The council received public input on the proposed 3rd Street park. Frazer said the “vast majority” of those who commented agreed with the council’s vision for the park, which is to maintain it as a passive park with possibly a water fountain, benches, trails and pieces of sculpture. The town wants to have the park professionally designed, Frazer said, and is putting together a request for proposal. The RFP will be voted on January 2013 and awarded in February, Frazer said, and development of the park will hopefully begin that spring.

The regularly scheduled council meeting at 7 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 13, has been canceled.

kfitzpatrick@somdnews.com