Two local residents donated $250,000 to the city of Goleta last week to help begin construction of an outdoor ice rink in Girsh Park.

Norman Waitt, the co-founder of Gateway Computers, and his fiancée Christina Djernaes contributed the money to the Greater Santa Barbara Ice Skating Association through the Kind World Foundation — a nonprofit organization founded by Waitt — to fund the city’s ‘Ice in Paradise’ project. The donation pushed total funding over $3 million and will allow project managers to begin seeking bidders for the design and construction of the rink.

According to Waitt, the ice rink is a unique feature for a coastal city.

“It is a good thing for Californians on the coast to have because there are no outdoor skating rinks like in my hometown of Sioux City, Iowa,” Waitt said in a press release. “It is a wonderful outlet for kids.”

The closest rink for Goleta residents is the Channel Islands Ice Center — host to UCSB’s ice hockey games — in Oxnard.

Goleta Mayor Margaret Connell said the donation reinvigorated community members’ hopes for a local establishment.

“The idea of the ice rink is something that has been in the works for a long time,” Connell said. “And with this most recent contribution, we can finally say that there is clear movement in the right direction.”

The current plan envisions two rinks — junior and full regulation size — for youth and adult hockey leagues in addition to time slots set aside for recreational family use.
Connell said the ice rink will allow community members to pursue additional recreational activities.

“I have heard some rumblings about the fact that hockey is a more expensive sport to play than say, soccer or baseball,” Connell said. “But I just think that providing the community with the option to take up a new sport or pastime can only be seen as a positive.”

Fourth-year biology major Carolina Bistue said the project is an important investment for the city.

“I just think that it is positive all the way around,” Bistue said. “The idea of an ice rink immediately brings back memories of skating with my grandfather when I was young, and I think that many families will create those same sort of memories here in Goleta.”

The GSBISA expects to begin construction by December and will continue fundraising efforts in order to achieve the original goal of $8 million.

Despite construction expectations, Connell said it is a tentative timeline.

“The most recent numbers that I have heard were that they hoped to break ground by this December,” Connell said. “That is great, and I really hope they start working that quickly. I just know from past experience that these  things sometimes take a little longer than people thought they would.”