2014-12-04 / Front Page

One-Year Hiatus for Ice Rink

By Tom Walsh

As it stands now, there’ll be no outdoor ice skating in downtown Newport this winter.

Michele Maker Palmieri, executive director of Newport Waterfront Events, which formerly operated as part of the Newport Yachting Center (NYC), said the outdoor rink is “taking a one-season hiatus.” However, she said that her organization plans to open the rink in December 2015 at a new location.

“It’s really sad. We feel terrible about it,” she said, adding that her group ran out of time to get the rink together for this winter.

“There are a lot of variables to getting the rink open,” she said.

Not the least of those is where it would operate.

With the sale of the NYC earlier this year, the skating rink’s future became problematic. The parking lot adjacent to the Gateway Center, 23 America’s Cup Ave., had emerged as a popular alternate site, and the center’s management welcomed the idea.

Palmieri said she favors that site as well. However, she said, there was not enough time to install necessary electrical power upgrades and other infrastructure elements to open the rink there this month or any time soon.

“It’s disappointing to say the least,” said Third Ward Councilor Kathryn E. Leonard. For a time, she said, there was talk that the Peregrine Group, new owner of the NYC property, was willing to let the rink open for this winter on its former site. However, Palmieri said, she would have needed immediate financial support to make that happen.

Leonard said she understood that $100,000 would be needed and that she had arranged for about $60,000 in pledges.

“Kate Leonard came through with generous donations,” Palmieri agreed. But time, she said, was not on their side for this season.

“We plan to pull out all the stops for next season,” Palmieri declared. “It’s really quite an undertaking.” Without sponsors, the rink would have annually fallen into the red by between $45,000 and $100,000.

Meanwhile, Palmieri said her organization is planning to bring back its popular summer concert series as well as other traditional events such as Oktoberfest and the Chowder Cook-Off. She said she hoped to move those events to Fort Adams State Park, the long-time summer home to the popular Newport Folk and Jazz festivals.

“We are in discussions now with the Fort Adams Trust and the state Department of Environmental Management,” Palmieri said. She hopes that those discussions will be concluded soon so that her organization can begin booking talent by mid-January.

Return to top