About the Renovation Campaign
On an auspicious day in 1954, a group of community members brought together vision and generosity to create Wissahickon Skating Club. Since that time, generations of skaters and their families have enjoyed the fruits of that vision and generosity. Today I write to you about what I hope will be looked upon by future generations of Wissahickon Skating Club families as the beginning of another “auspicious day.”
In past emails I have referenced our “great old barn.” It is part of what makes us unique, and each time we visit it instills a warm sense of nostalgia. It is home. However, the age of our beautiful facility creates a very real risk that on any given day, we could experience a major coolant leak under the ice, a compressor failure, or any of a hundred other breakdowns that could shutter our old barn for an indeterminate period. In short, it is time to recreate the vision and generosity of our founding members and undertake a major renewal to preserve “Wiss” for ourselves and future generations.
With that, I share with you the vision for a renewed Wissahickon Stating Club, and ask you to please read this lengthy message, with key information provided below in Q&A format.
Kevin Hamel, President, Wissahickon Skating Club
Our facility was constructed in the mid-1950s. Though improvements both modest and substantial have been made through the decades (the Muehlbronner Lounge, energy efficient windows, the brilliant new LED lighting), our beautiful old barn is showing its age and its mechanical system is decades beyond its expected life. We continue to run on the refrigeration system installed in the original build. Our compressors are so old that repair parts are no longer available and must be custom-machined. The iron tubes that carry chilled saline solution through a sand bed beneath our ice have never been replaced. Their age and state of corrosion precludes any opportunity to thaw the ice for repairs, as it is the frozen sand surrounding the pipes that keeps them from rupturing. And our member spaces are in need of repair and modernization. While we could put off reconstruction, and perhaps get a few more years from our ice-making equipment, we risk a catastrophic failure that may not be repairable and that would necessitate a full rebuild, though perhaps during Club Season. We must take control of our destiny by undertaking renovations during non-club-season months from April through August.
We hope to begin work at the end of the upcoming 2018-19 Club Season. However, we must balance our need to undertake this project with the realities of fundraising in a small club. We cannot begin work until we have raised sufficient funds to pay for renovations. If we reach our fundraising goals by November 1, 2018, we will begin at the close of Club season (March 2019) with renovations completed by the end of August, 2019. If we do not achieve a sufficient level of funding to trigger a “go” decision by November 1, 2018, we will continue fundraising and postpone until the following non-Club season, albeit with the known risk of a potentially catastrophic mechanical failure.
It will cost $3.5 million to realize the full extent of renovations including both rink replacement and renovations to member spaces as shown in the illustration below. Our hope is to raise that entire amount. If our fundraising goals fall short of that mark, we will undertake a lesser scope of renovations but in no event less than replacement of the complete rink including mechanicals and the concrete skirt surrounding the rink, which will safely move our Club beyond the current risks.
We are relying on contributions from our members, alumni and the community. The Board, along with the Audit and Finance Committee and the Reconstruction Committee, have considered many options. Charitable contributions from members and friends are considered best for the long-term health of the Club. As a federally registered 501(c)(3) organization, charitable contributions to the Club is tax deductible. We have already raised over $1 million in gifts and pledges. To be successful in our efforts, we must come together to achieve contributions across our entire membership (and from past members), including at least a handful of additional large donations.
Two ways. First, of course, you can donate. We have established a Capital Campaign Committee that consists of several sub-committees, each directed at a specific segment of our membership. Expect outreach from one of those sub-committees. Additionally, I or any of the Committee members would be happy to engage one-on-one, or to present in a group setting. Second, you can become one of our “evangelists.” Apropos the previous statement regarding presentation in a group setting, you can be the organizer of such a group of members and non-members to whom we could present our vision. Or if you are aware of a potential source of funding, you can bring it to my attention.