Some years ago, the town of Saugerties implemented a roller skating program at the arena, offering public skating on the concrete floor during the warmer months. It never really caught on, though, so it wasn’t cost-effect to maintain (though it’s still available for private parties).
Since then, Kleeman and the arena staff have become more flexible with summer programming, teaming up with various community groups to use the building year-round.
Starting last year, the arena served as a venue for the town summer camp during inclement weather (the kids used to get sent home). Now, should the sky fill with dark clouds, kids and counselors head over to the ice arena, where they can participate in crafts, games, sports, and other activities under cover.
The Relay for Life event, an all-night fundraiser walk to benefit the American Cancer Society, will make use of the building this year. Participants, who sometimes have to deal with rain, will now have the option of walking indoors. The relay is usually held at Cantine’s large pavilion, but this year it will be held at the AYSO soccer pavilion just outside the arena.
The arena also serves as a shelter for a drum and bugle corps. The Empire Statesmen fill the cement floor with 200 cots in the evening, drill in neighboring fields before heading down to Dietz Stadium for a competition.
The facility is also used by the Saugerties Kiwanis Club for its monthly meetings, and is regularly booked for birthday parties and other get-togethers. A recently added training room provides space for meetings or programs, and was recently used for a babysitting training course.
Normally, the Saugerties High School wrestling team uses the training room, which the team helped to build, so that space for wrestling practice could be available to the wrestlers, when the high school was short on space during recent rennovations. The room has also been used for a wrestling camp facilitated by coach Scott Wickham over the past few summers.
Other ideas for summer use, including a dodgeball league, are in the process of being organized, said Kleeman. He is also open to suggestions for other events.
“I’m open to anything we can book in there and make some money,” said Kleeman.
Asked how much it costs to rent the building, Kleeman said it depends upon the event and its needs, but that summer rental rates are more flexible, because it costs less to maintain the building.
Kleeman says that he is willing to work with groups over the summer to provide space at a reasonable cost. Negotiating factors might include whether the use of electricity is needed, or if the concession stand must open during the event.
Parks and buildings superintendent Greg Chorvas says that much of the credit for the arena’s success goes to Kleeman.
“Rob has really just taken the place and run with it. He’s doing a great job,” said Chorvas.
While coordinating all of this, the staff is also responsible for upkeep of the arena over the summer. Anything that is broken is repaired or replaced, machines and equipment are cleaned and sometimes upgraded, and equipment is serviced to prepared it for the upcoming season.
According to Chorvas, all ice arenas, even those that are open year-round, close their doors for a short time in order to shut down and service the equipment. In recent years, the staff has used this time to make energy efficiency improvements, which have netted some state grants.
These efficiencies, in part, have lowered the costs of the arena so much that it has become a self supporting facility. Rental and skating fees pay for all utilities, staff salaries, and operating costs of the building, says Kleeman.
In early August, the arena is prepared for the return of the hockey season, starting with a hockey camp in mid-August. According to Kleeman, the chiller must run for almost two weeks to cool the rink down enough to solidify the ice for skating.
By the end of August, ice skating is back in full swing, along with Boundless Edge Ice Dance lessons, and teams are preparing for the coming adult and youth hockey league seasons.
More information on the ice arena and all scheduled events can be found at www.kiwanisicearena.com, or by calling (845) 247-2590.