Beth O’Connor was nine years old when she began skating at the Martha’s Vineyard Ice Arena. At that time, the arena had just a roof, and players hung tarps around the sides in the winter to keep rain and snow off the ice. In 1992 the arena was enclosed for year-round skating and locker rooms were added to the building a few years later.
“I’ve watched the arena be cut and pasted together over the years,” Ms. O’Connor said. “It’s been great to see it grow.”
Ms. O’Connor is now the figure skating coach for the Martha’s Vineyard figure skating club and a member of the MV Arena corporation.
Over the years the ice arena has become a sort of chilly community center, offering countless opportunities for all members of the Island community to skate. From figure skating lessons to ice hockey leagues for men, women and children of all ages, it is a hotspot for the Island’s icy sports.
Even on a warm August day, the clatter of hockey sticks and pucks echoed around the building. Jill Newcomer sat in the bleachers, chatting with other parents. Her son, Nate, was participating in an ice hockey clinic. This is his second year skating at the arena. Ms. Newcomer said that she likes the safe, friendly atmosphere.
“This is really the only rink I’ve been to where you can leave your bag open and be confident that you’re not going to have anything stolen,” she said.
But the Island winters have not been as kind to the arena, and its age is starting to show. According to Jerry Murphy, who sits on the building and maintenance committee with Ms. O’Connor, the roof is now more than 30 years old and has been repaired numerous times. Despite what Mr. Murphy calls “patchwork repairs,” the roof continues to leak, sometimes in as many as three or four places.
“If it rains the night before, you’ll come in and there will be holes all over the ice,” Ms. O’Connor said. “You have to fix those before anyone can go on.”
Mr. Murphy estimates that replacing the roof will cost about $300,000. He said that the building committee has already selected the builder to replace the roof — the same builder who installed the roof to begin with — and plans to have the new roof insulated.
“The insulation will prevent water from coming in and will drive down our electricity costs,” Mr. Murphy said.
The arena has begun a capital campaign, called the Raise the Roof!, to raise the money for the job. Mr. Murphy reports that the campaign has already garnered $30,000 in contributions, $10,000 of which was donated by the Vineyard Golf Club foundation. To further its fundraising effort, the arena, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, will make the Raise the Roof! campaign the focus of its 13th annual Ice Savours benefit auction. The benefit will be held at the Farm Neck Golf Club in Oak Bluffs on Thursday, August 15. Mr. Murphy said that local businesses will donate the cost of running the event so that all the proceeds from the silent and live auctions can be used to pay for the roof.
The roof is just one of many items on the arena’s repair checklist, but all parties agree that it’s the most important one.
“The arena is always in trouble,” Ms. O’Connor said. “Outside, saltwater has damaged the woodwork. But the roof is our main focus right now. If we don’t have a roof, we don’t have a rink.”
The Ice Savours benefit party for the Raise the Roof! campaign is from 6 to 8:30 p.m. on Thursday, August 15, at the Farm Neck Golf Club in Oak Bluffs. There will be fine wine and refreshments and a silent and live auction. Tickets are $100.