New agreement promises sustainability for ice rink

One dessert auction, raffle and golf tournament at a time, the Homer Hockey Association has been slowly, steadily, working toward a more stable financial future for the southern Kenai Peninsula’s beloved Kevin Bell Ice Arena.

As many may be aware, the HHA, a volunteer nonprofit organization located in Homer, owns and maintains the Kevin Bell Arena. This is a unique and sometimes financially challenging situation — especially for a town with Homer’s population. Throughout the country, a majority of rinks are either run as private, for-profit enterprises or are owned and operated by local government.

While every single fund-raising effort is important, a recent agreement between HHA and the landowner and holder of the loan used to build the rink is, in the words of HHA board vice president Jan Rumble, a “game changer that sets the Kevin Bell Arena on a more stable and sustainable financial course moving forward.”

A new agreement between the HHA and the English Bay Corp. (Homer Spit Properties) means if the association continues its current level of income through ice fees, fundraising, advertising and grant writing, residents of the Southern Kenai Peninsula and elsewhere will be able to enjoy Kevin Bell Arena for the long-term.

“It’s no secret the rink was facing an uncertain future the past couple years,” said Rumble, “but the tireless effort of fellow board members and volunteers, the generosity of the public, and the willingness of English Bay Corporation to work with us, has us feeling positive about the future of Kevin Bell Ice Arena.”

While Rumble says the new agreement, is a cause for celebration, it’s no time to relax, since maintaining the current level of volunteerism and financial commitment from the community is the key to future success as well.

“We definitely can breathe a sigh of relief thanks to English Bay Corporation but we don’t plan to slow down,” said Rumble. “Working together as a community, we plan to not only keep all the existing programs in place but also work on building new programs to better serve the community into the future. That includes our figure skating, curling and broomball programs, not just our successful hockey program.”

Rumble said that while the new agreement is the product of a “true a team effort,” the financial advice and historical knowledge of Cinda Martin and legal guidance of Tracey Tillion were critical to success.

“Cinda and Tracey have been such an important part of this process,” said Rumble. “Couple their hard work, skill and knowledge with the support and leadership of English Bay Corporation and Homer Spit Properties and you have something wonderful for the people of Homer — a first-class recreational facility open and available to everyone now and well into the future.”

Tim Bristol is a volunteer with the Homer Hockey Association. Shelly Laukitis is president of the Homer Hockey Association board of directors.