The Lewiston-Clarkston Valley’s only indoor ice skating rink got a two-year reprieve Wednesday when Lewiston port commissioners voted unanimously to extend the facility’s lease.
The decision caps months of what began as heated discussions between the Port of Lewiston and the Lewis-Clark Amateur Hockey Association, the organization that operates the rink at 1521 Sixth Ave. North.
“It’s exactly what we were looking for,” said Brett Wilponen, president of the association.
The port was considering canceling the association’s lease because the building’s other tenant, Clearwater Converting, wants to expand in the space. That possibility drew about 75 people to a port meeting where association members talked about the importance of skating to young people.
Under the compromise, the association will have a two-year lease with an option for a third year. Rent will rise from $16,800 per year to $24,360 annually initially, and then again to $35,316 in the second year. If the option is exercised, the annual rent would grow to $51,216.
The port, however, expects the association to be actively working toward finding a new home. That’s because Clearwater Converting is a more lucrative client with a manufacturing operation that’s directly in line with the port’s core mission of job creation.
The company’s lease generates $138,000 a year and that figure would climb to $200,000 if it occupied the entire building, said David Doeringsfeld, Lewiston’s port manager.
Clearwater Converting employs 15 people who take Clearwater Paper’s gigantic paperboard rolls and turn them into smaller rolls or sheets.
While Clearwater Converting is willing to delay its plans for two years, it might not be willing to wait any longer, Doeringsfeld said.
The port expects to spend the next two years helping the ice rink and Clearwater Converting find solutions that meet their long-term goals, Doeringsfeld said.
The association would like a place where it could have a full-size regulation hockey rink instead of the one at the port that’s about three-quarters, Wilponen said.
That upgrade would cost $3 million to $5 million, Wilponen said. “It’s not going to be a quick, easy thing.”
Clearwater Converting would like to consolidate its two Lewiston locations into one at the port, said Candice Rush, office manager. “It would save on expenses.”
Possibilities besides taking over the rink’s spot, such as building an addition, could be options, Doeringsfeld said. Clearwater Converting’s other building is on the west edge of downtown Lewiston and has a fish mural painted on it that’s easily visible from the Lewiston levee.
Williams may be contacted at [email protected] or (208) 848-2261.