LYNDON, Vt. – After just three weeks of fundraising, a community effort to save Fenton Chester Arena in Lyndon has managed to raise over $30,000.
143 individual donors contributed to the cause, ranging from local hockey families, community members, and even folks well outside the Northeast Kingdom.
For those involved in the recently-formed ‘Rescue Ice Hockey in the Northeast Kingdom’ group, the donations were greatly appreciated, but not necessarily a surprise.
“The proof is in the pudding,” said Scott Beck. “I mean, when the call went out that we’re really in danger of losing this asset, the community really responded.”
“Generations have learned to skate at Fenton Chester Arena, all age groups in town,” said Christian Thompson, who serves on the town selectboard. “In a way, I’m really not surprised that the community came together and found a way for it to reopen this fall.”
The Lyndon Selectboard also came through with some funding, directing an additional $25,000 toward repairs. There’s also a possibility for grant funding, which would bring the grand total for renovations near $80,000.
“It’s going to be a place where this winter, families will be able to go, youth skating will resume, adult hockey will keep going,” Thompson said. “It was a tragedy that last year it was closed, a lot of families dropped out of youth hockey.”
The list of needed repairs is a long one, and Beck said RINK’s fundraising goal is now $150,000. What they’ve managed to raise so far will cover some of the more pressing issues that need to be addressed before the winter sports season begins.
“Plumbing and electrical issues will be fixed, we really hope to have the overhead lighting in the arena much brighter and much more energy efficient,” Beck said. “We’ll also have the furnace replaced, which is really on its last legs.”
Some hockey communities well outside the Northeast Kingdom pitched in for the effort. CSB Youth Hockey plays its games at Cairns Arena in South Burlington, but as President Chris Weinberg told us, Vermont’s hockey towns have a way of looking out for each other.
“As a fellow community-based youth hockey organization, we felt that it was part of our mission to help support other community-based youth sports organizations in a time of need,” Weinberg said. “There’s been a progressive move toward club sports focused on elite-level development, so community and town-based sports continue to be under attack, for lack of a better word.”
The fundraising page for Fenton Chester Arena can be found here.