Summerville D.R.E.A.M. proposes seasonal ice skating rink on Cedar Street

A seasonal ice rink in Summerville, similar to the rink in Columbia, above, could boost the town’s downtown economy, according to some.

Ice skating in Summerville? Officials from Summerville D.R.E.A.M. say not only is it possible, but the winter activity would even drive the economic engine of downtown during the holiday season.

Steven Doniger, the executive director of Summerville D.R.E.A.M., said look at Greenville, and other cities in South Carolina that offer seasonal ice rinks.

“Communities really do rally around it,” Doniger said. “We feel it will be very popular.”

During the monthly standing committee meetings on Tuesday night, Doniger proposed the idea of a temporary portable 40-by-80 foot unit going up this November at 208 S. Cedar St. and staying in operation until the beginning of January. At the close of the holiday season, the unit would be packed up and removed.

Doniger said the ice skating rink would bring more people through the downtown area, leading to more shopping and dining that helps local merchants. He requested a $130,000 investment from the town’s hospitality fund to get the rink up and running but promised that the money would be repaid to the town.

His idea was met with skepticism from council members who felt the proposal was pitched too late in the year to be considered for this season.

Councilman McIntosh called the proposal “extremely ambitious.”

“I don’t hate the idea, I kind of like the idea,” McIntosh said. “I’m surprised and taken aback that this is being presented to us for this year.”

McIntosh along with other council members, said hard data was needed to show how successful the ice rink would be in a town of Summerville’s size.

“This is a significant amount of money and it feels like maybe you’re trying to skate around the H-tax process,” McIntosh said.

Councilman Walter Bailey and Councilman Aaron Brown each represent districts in the downtown area. Neither of them were on board with the plan to invest in a seasonal ice skating rink.

Bailey said he was concerned about the location being “smack in the middle of town.”

Councilwoman Kima Garten-Schmidt made a motion to add the request to the agenda for Thursday’s Town Council meeting, giving council members more time to consider the idea.