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Ice by Spring: Ceremony seals deal for rink

From left, Chuck Haselwood, Joanne Haselwood, Greg Meakin and Cary Bozeman break ground in the Bremerton Ice Arena,  Friday, Sept. 6. - Photo by Robin J. Moody
From left, Chuck Haselwood, Joanne Haselwood, Greg Meakin and Cary Bozeman break ground in the Bremerton Ice Arena, Friday, Sept. 6.
— image credit: Photo by Robin J. Moody

After a two-year effort fraught with complications, the Sept. 6 ground-breaking ceremony for the Bremerton Ice Arena signaled a triumph for managing director Greg Meakin.

“I’m ready for the fun stuff,” said a tired but happy-looking Meakin.

For competitive ice skaters, the event heralded a time when practicing their sport would not be as burdensome.

Therese Deal, who recently moved from Virginia, wakes up at 3:30 a.m. on Saturdays to make practice with her figure skating team in Seattle and drives to Sprinker Ice Arena in Spanaway twice a week.

“I’ll be able to skate five days a week instead of three,” Deal said. “I will finally be an asset to my team.”

Fifteen-year-old Kelley Huston’s mother drives her to the Spanaway rink four days a week, an hour each way, she told the audience.

“It will be easier to train,” said Huston’s mother Pat. “She needs more ice time to train at her level.”

The Bremerton arena will likely be complete by spring, Meakin said.

The crowd of 100 people who attended the Friday morning ceremony next to the YMCA included local City Council members, Mayor Cary Bozeman and a host of other elected officials and county residents.

Chuck and Joanne Haselwood, the owners of the Haselwood Auto Group who provided $4.5 million for the project, participated in the ground breaking.

The auto group will also provide non-profit support for kids’ ice programs, according to the Haselwood’s spokesman Michael Gould.

Gould also alluded to expansion plans in North and South Kitsap.

Meakin’s team repeatedly praised Bozeman and other Bremerton officials for their support and help expediting the complicated public-private partnership negotiations.

Meakin awarded Bozeman with a Bremerton Ice Arena hockey jersey emblazoned on the back with the number “1.”

Many were impressed with how quickly the project moved along once the East Bremerton site was chosen — the project was aided by City Attorney Roger Lubovich’s recent experience negotiating a similar ice arena deal at this former job in Kent, according to Jim Spencer, director of Bremerton Parks and Recreation.

“The first I heard of this was at the end of March — now in six months we’re breaking ground,” Spencer said.

The site for the arena was cleared this week, Meakin said.

Under the lease agreement, the city will give Meakin a $177,000 and a 50-year site for the building in return for 194 ice hours annual for recreational programs.

In addition to an NHL-regulation ice rink, the facility will contain a pro-shop, a health club and a food court.

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