On Saturday, the public got a chance to walk through the cavernous 44,000-square-foot former Northwest River Supplies building in Moscow and envision it as the new home for the Palouse Ice Rink.
There is no ice yet, and there are even some NRS rafts left behind in the largely empty warehouse on 2009 S. Main St.
However, Mark McGuire can already picture the layout of the ice rink and the rest of the facility, to be called the Parks Activity and Recreation Center.
The Palouse Ice Rink Board president said there will be a full sheet of ice end-to-end on the west side of the building. The entrance will be on the south side of the building, the same side where a new parking lot will be created to handle more visitors.
There will be locker rooms and, unlike the current rink, indoor plumbing. There will be a “Science on Ice” classroom for the 500-600 fifth graders from the area who visit the rink to learn about physics and other scientific subjects.
McGuire said it is a facility that the board believes can be transformed relatively quickly with only some minor modifications.
“This is a brilliant use of the former NRS space,” he said.
On Saturday, the board organized an open house at the NRS building to generate excitement, answer questions and persuade people to donate money to the cause. A small crowd showed up to observe the facility.
If everything goes according to plan, the board hopes to take possession of the property in February and open it to the public in October, McGuire said.
“With this facility, we can have longer hours,” he said. “We can host a little bit bigger event. There can be more people on the ice. And it’s just going to provide a greater impact to the community.”
He also said they can lease out the unused space in the building to other groups.
NRS Chief Financial Officer Tony Mangini, vice president of the Palouse Ice Rink board, also envisioned an ice rink there when NRS moved out of the building last year.
He started asking an engineer and architect if he was crazy, or if it was possible.
“Every time I asked the question, the answer was always yes it would work,” he said.
Now, the board is trying to raise $1.2 million to close the sale of the property and start renovations.
The remodel would cost about $3 million — $2 million cheaper than building a new facility at the fairgrounds. The ice rink board has raised $1.8 million toward the project, including the Moscow City Council’s $1 million commitment from the city’s Hamilton Fund.
Mangini said the board hopes to have a bank loan in place by Feb. 2.
He said a grassroots effort helped make the Palouse Ice Rink and hockey part of the community during the past 20 years. The goal was always to move into a permanent structure, and Mangini said he is excited to begin moving on from simply digital renderings of the new facility.
“That’s one of the things I love about this project is you can actually see it,” he said. “It’s tangible.”
The planned Parks Activity and Recreation Center is named after Bill and Donna Parks, who own the building.
“It’ll be humble, but it will be nice,” Mangini said. “It’ll be a safe environment for kids to recreate and it’ll be a place that will last for a long time to come.”
Anthony Kuipers can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.