Goleta City Council members unanimously approved a development impact fee reduction request to waive $283,875 in fees for a proposed Goleta ice rink called Ice in Paradise at last night’s meeting.

The rink, which has been in the works for 16 years, is slated to occupy a space next to Girsh Park in Goleta and will be operated by the nonprofit organization Greater Santa Barbara Ice Skating Association. Representatives of various organizations including the UCSB Ice Skating Club and local youth hockey teams attended the meeting to voice their support for the proposal.

The reduction constitutes a 75 percent decrease in the impact fees normally imposed on the construction of a new facility by the city due to the beneficial nature of the project. Parker Anderson, a board member for the GSBISA, said the decision was a huge victory that gave fundraising campaign inertia.

Sarah Feldman, the president and founder of the UCSB Ice Skating Club, said that the club’s efforts to facilitate activities have been difficult due to the lack of a nearby ice skating rink.

“One of the things when I was initiating the Ice Skating Club was that we didn’t have an ice skating rink and that made it really tough to start. It had us traveling 40 miles down to Oxnard to ice skate on a regular basis,” Feldman said. “We look forward to Greater Santa Barbara Ice Skating Association’s Ice in Paradise. When Ice in Paradise gets here, we will get a lot of great momentum from campus. I look forward to what Ice Skating Club has in the future.”

Kathy Mintzer, president of GSBISA, said Ice in Paradise will provide the community with a number of necessary facilities and resources, including a homework center for local schoolchildren and other athletes using the rink.

“We are going to have computers so they can do their homework [and] they can get work done so they can skate,” Mintzer said. “We are also going to have afterschool programs. Some of the programs that are going to help at-risk kids and we are actually hoping to, at some point, have UCSB students to help maybe tutoring.”

According to Mintzer, the facility will also feature special ice sports and building adaptations for disabled individuals in the injured veterans group Wounded Warriors, such as sled hockey and a special benching feature that can be used by disabled individuals.

Furthermore, board members said the UCSB Ice Hockey team will be able to practice full time and enjoy a new culture of ice skating games unknown to many Southern Californians, such as Broom Ball.

Nathan Ling, a second-year communication and Chinese major, represented the UCSB Ice Skating Club and said he would be excited to witness the completion of the arena’s construction within the upcoming year.

Although the closest ice skating rink is located in Oxnard, events held by the UCSB Ice Skating Club have drawn in large numbers of students, as many UCSB students are eager for Santa Barbara to finally have its own rink, according to Feldman.

“Literally everyone I’ve talked to says ‘When is that ice skating rink coming?’” Feldman said.

Goleta Mayor Roger S. Acevas and the majority of city council members agreed that development fees for the rink’s construction should be reduced, allowing the venue to be completed as soon as possible.

“It’s a perfect opportunity to [add] another recreational venue,” Acevas said. “I think a reduction of fees is the right thing to do because it’s the right reason to do it.”

Other council members agreed the construction of Ice in Paradise is a great way to provide local families with recreation, instill values in the community’s youth and boost the local economy while also providing UCSB students with a valuable venue.

City Council member and former mayor Edward Easton said a local rink would also provide the adolescent population with a reasonable and effective place for socializing.

“We have a lot of recreation for kids,” Easton said. “But I don’t see or hear a lot of [recreation] for teenagers — places to go, places to hang out, places to hang out in a healthy and a beneficial way.”

A version of this article appeared on page 1 of February 20th 2013’s print edition of the Daily Nexus.
Photo courtesy of Blackbird Architects.