The Martha’s Vineyard Arena and Felix Neck Wildlife Sanctuary will complete major capital campaigns this year thanks to $1.35 million in expansion grants announced Tuesday by MVYouth, the community fund founded three years ago.

A $1 million grant for the arena — the largest grant to date awarded by MVYouth — will allow the Island’s only ice rink to complete a $3.7 million upgrade of its aging facility. A second grant of $350,000 will allow Felix Neck to expand a new barn from a three-season to a four-season educational facility that includes a nature-based preschool. The wildlife sanctuary began 52 years ago as a natural history camp for children.

The grants were announced in a ceremony Tuesday night at the West Tisbury Library. Both recipients were recognized for their contributions to the year-round Island community.

Felix Neck executive director Suzan Bellincampi (left), Ms. Scott and arena general manager Peter Lambos. — Mark Lovewell

“The purpose of the grants is to be the last dollars in,” explained MVYouth board member Ron Rappaport. “We want to fund projects that are actually going somewhere . . . and we wanted to fund projects that would have a large impact on Vineyard youth.”

MVYouth executive director Lindsey Scott recounted the long history of the arena, built by hand as an open-air ice rink some 40 years ago by a group of skating enthusiasts. “When seats were needed, benches were added. When it started to rain, they built a roof,” she said.

The rink, which serves hundreds of Island families through hockey, figure skating and other programs, also drew praise from MVYouth leaders for the recent hard work done to strengthen the organization. In the past year, the arena hired general manager Peter Lambos, developed an administrative support agreement with the YMCA of Martha’s Vineyard (housed next door), did a formal indoor space needs analysis, hired an accountant, upgraded its technology, replaced the roof of the facility and raised $2.6 million for the larger project from private donors, foundations and the community.

“This will do so much for the arena,” said Mr. Lambos, former longtime executive director of the Martha’s Vineyard Boys and Girls Club, which received a large MVYouth grant last year under his leadership. “The way I felt last year getting the grant as lifelong member of the boys and girls club . . . their parents literally built this place,” he said of the ice rink. “It’s a very special thing to be a part of.”

Felix Neck executive director Suzan Bellincampi said the grant represents a huge boost for the sanctuary’s education programs, and that without it the barn would have been limited to a three-season facility. Former longtime executive director Gus Ben David attended the ceremony and was recognized by Mr. Rappaport as “a Vineyard treasure.”

Education coordinator Josey Kirkland called the grant a “game changer.”

“Thank you,” she said. “We’re psyched.”

But Ms. Scott returned the thanks to the recipients.

“It’s because of your hard work these wonderful programs are available to our youth,” she said.

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