Pauls Valley, OK, Pauls Valley Democrat

April 11, 2013

Ice skating could be holiday treat

Ezra Mann
Pauls Valley Democrat — The journey to make Pauls Valley a one of a kind tourism destination seems to already be on a good footing for many residents, be it a museum for toys or a water park in progress.

However, the latest suggestion for an attraction took a bit more explaining for even the most progressive to catch on at Tuesday’s city council meeting.

The idea, suggested by PV Tourism Director Erin Creach, is to add a distinguishing touch to the downtown area during the holiday season with an artificial ice skating rink.

It came before city council members through a $22,940 recommendation for funding from the PV Tourism Board and would be a way to compliment features like the Christmas lighting done every year at the train depot.

Creach noted how a community committee created for the holidays that found that the rink idea would also be much cheaper than their original suggestion of creating a drive-through light display in Wacker Park, where they estimated it would cost no less than $80,000.

Early questions from those like Councilman Hal Blevins focused on how things from lights to skates would be paid for, which would all be covered by a company that would come and set it up in town on that temporary basis.

“The reason they wanted an ice skating rink was they felt like because different communities already have drive-through lights and that it would be unique and that it would bring more people to Pauls Valley during the holiday season,” said Creach. “We have a couple of different ideas at this point.”

The rink itself would only operate from about Thanksgiving until around Christmas, charging a rate to be determined that would go right back into tourism funding.

The artificial option became the most feasible way versus actually freezing water from research performed by Creach and is possible since the surface could be easily placed and removed later by the company.

In fact, City Manager James Frizell confirmed it would likely not require much help from the city other than preparing a flat spot for the surface via dirt work and providing city utilities.

Creach pointed out how the outdoor concept even has two spots that would not take much preparation like the old Alvis Hotel or next to the pocket park along Chickasaw Street.

“When I presented it to them, the tourism board actually wanted to investigate what it would cost to do real ice, which is way more expensive, but this was lower end scale cost,” Creach, adding how community members might be able to give some if not most of the tourism funding back since they plan to raise what they can through donations and that the funding request mainly gives them a starting place to go forward with the idea.

“I just want to know that the funding is there to go ahead and put it in place so we can get the ball rolling on the process.”

Creach added that merchants downtown already stay open late during the holiday season and some of them are willing to stay open a bit longer. This means extra economic benefits like sales taxes from the people that would come to enjoy ice skating.

To assure safety, Police Chief Mitch McGill said it would not be too much trouble to have a reserve officer nearby on duty to keep an eye on things. Vice Mayor Billy Riddle noted how he liked the idea since both proposed spots would have plenty of parking within walking distance.

In the end, there was no action taken on whether or not to approve funding, but council members like Gary Alfred asked Creach to bring them more information to the next council meeting. This includes what could be done to provide lights outside the rink to compliment what the company would provide and to finalize all the details.