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Rates for ski area and ice arena going up this winter

Pop Whalen rates to increase 6% to cover costs

September 09, 2010
WOLFEBORO — Parks and Recreation Director Ethan Hipple presented selectmen with proposed new rates for the Abenaki Ski Area and the Pop Whalen Ice Arena at the board's Sept. 1 meeting.

The rates will go into effect this winter. Hipple said the Ice Arena is scheduled to open on Oct. 4. Both facilities are managed by the Wolfeboro Parks and Recreation Department.

The Pop Whalen Ice Arena is funded as an enterprise fund by the town. That means that the cost of maintenance and capital improvements are paid through user fees. The Abenaki Ski Area, which shares facilities with the Ice Arena, is supported through a combination of taxpayer subsidy and user fees.

Pop Whalen rates

The Pop Whalen rates need to go up to pay for the resurfacing of the parking lot in 2011, estimated to cost $20,000, and the $9,400 per year cost of bond payments for improvements now being made to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), including ADA-accessible bathrooms and access improvements elsewhere in the arena.

Hipple proposed to increase Pop Whalen rental rates by $5 per hour in all categories to achieve breakeven in 2011, assuming the same 1,823 hours of use experienced in 2009, which were down from 2008. If usage returns to 2008 levels, there will be a surplus, which would be added to the arena's fund reserve for future improvements.

The Pop Whalen Arena has four rental rate categories: Discount and Regular Weekday and Discount and Regular Weekend. Each category would increase by $5 per hour, ranging from $130 to $135 per hour for the Discount Weekday rate and from $165 to $170 an hour for the Regular Weekend rate. School and town teams receive the Discount Rates while adult leagues are charged the Regular Rate.

Program rates, which include daily and season passes, would not increase because they were raised last year. Rink advertising rates, however, would increase from $650 to $700.

Hipple provided a comparison of rink rates for 20 New Hampshire facilities, including Pop Whalen. Based solely on the rate, there would be only two rinks with lower hourly rental rates, both of them for private schools (New Hampton and St. Paul's). Adjusting all rates to a base of 60 minutes (Pop Whalen rates and those of six other rinks are based on 50 minutes), then nine of 20 rinks will have lower rates. This showed that even after the proposed increases, Pop Whalen rates will compare favorably with most other arenas.

Hipple said his goal is to get more ice time at the arena booked out and thus increase usage hours and revenue.

Abenaki Ski Area

The proposal for the ski area is to increase the rate for day passes by $1 per pass for residents and $4 per pass for non-residents. Abenaki has four pass categories: Weekday Resident and Non-Resident and Weekend Resident and Non-Resident. The Resident rates would go from $4/day for weekdays to $5/day and from $5/day for weekends to $6/day.

Season passes would not increase.

Hipple said Abenaki would be adding a new category for Private Rentals with an hourly rate of $66 per hour. These rates are for schools and groups looking for practice slope time. There are two groups expected to take advantage of this rate, the Abenaki Ski Racing Club, which consists of 30 kids in a 6-12 age group, and Brewster Academy.

Hipple provided selectmen not only the current and proposed rates, but also past and projected usage and how the new rates were calculated based on projected expenses and revenues.

Selectmen thanked Hipple for his thorough presentation and unanimously approved the proposed rates.

Martin Lord Osman
Brewster Academy
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