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Downtown Merchants Eye Holiday Ice Rink

Some local shop owners are wary of the first-ever winter skating rink coming to a central parking lot.

The temporary “” holiday skating rink is well on its way to the $100,000 in donated funds it needs to open on schedule in November, according to in the .

But while the downtown , according to the report, is kicking in $7,500 – more than 10 percent of the total raised by Napa on Ice so far – not all downtown merchants are thrilled with the prospect of the rink operating for two months in a city parking lot at the corner of Third and Coombs streets.

At , at First and Coombs, owner Vicki Clements has been critical of the rink concept, but thinks it does have merit. She questions its location on a prime downtown parking lot.

“I hope it does bring business. I just think there are better locations,” said Clements.

“I’m being optimistic but concerned,” she added. “Let’s see how it goes this year.”

Phil Aved, owner of , said flooding a parking lot with water when the “is not a good idea.”

Like Clements, Aved said he’s unhappy with the lost parking during the holiday shopping season. “And if there are going to be (a lot) of skaters, where are they going to park?” he asked.

Aved said he is also concerned about kids getting injured while playing hockey without permission, and he questions what protection there will be if it rains.

“I think leaving kids there unattended is a bunch of hooey,” he said.

Youngsters, targeted as the major users for the rink at $10 a ticket (in advance and including skates), are only out of school for a couple of weeks, he added.

“So that just leaves the weekends. I think it is an ill-thought-out idea,” continued Aved, who said he feels the rink was “ram-rodded through.

“Is this is the city’s answer to job creation?” he asked

“There are tons and tons of ideas ... this just doesn’t seem like one of them,” Aved said.

Not so quick to dish the rink is owner , who is working to open her downtown on Coombs and First streets, about a block from the planned rink.

“I’m not worried if people want to come downtown to skate,” she said. “I would like to see it continue into January and February when there is nothing else going on.

“I just don’t know how it can work ... and make money,” Glavin said.

Mike Musa, owner of the across the street from the planned rink, sees both sides of the issue.

The rink might help his business, he said, but could have negative impacts for other merchants.

“We should try something. Let’s at least see how the first year goes. You can’t judge it until we try it. And it is something for the kids to do,” Musa said.

“If there are problems we can vote no next year ... then we will have something to talk about. I personally feel we should give it a chance,” Musa said.

“We have things like , a and an antique fair.”

Musa said during the winter months there are not as many tourists downtown. He doesn’t believe parking will be an issue because the county parking lot would be available after 5 p.m. on weekdays and all day weekends.

The new director of the said her organization is squarely in favor of the rink.

“Families searching for fun holiday outings can visit the skating rink and stay to visit the society’s museum located in the historic Goodman Library building behind the skating rink,” said executive director Nancy Levenberg.

“This will definitely add a bright spot to the downtown scene.  The proposed rink gives everyone one more excellent reason to shop, eat and play downtown,” Levenberg said.

From the start Nancy Jordan, whose on Coombs is right next to the city lot slated to become the seasonal rink, has also been concerned with the loss of parking.

Jordan said losing parking to the rink would make it difficult for her handicapped clients who use the accessible back door of the salon.

Jordan became critical when she wasn’t informed about the proposed ice rink until four days before the council meeting at which it was first discussed, in mid-August.

“I’m supportive of downtown, but felt the ice rink has been handled very poorly,” Jordan said.

“I don’t want to be negative. If it helps downtown — OK.”

She said the former Copia or the Napa Valley Exposition are better locations, representing all of Napa, and not just downtown.

The city council gave a unanimous nod for the rink on Sept. 6, with the understanding that the city is not investing any money beyond the cost of city labor to install a handicapped ramp with materials paid by Napa Holiday LLC, promoters of the rink.

The rink is scheduled to open Nov. 18 and operate for two months, according to the Register. 

Tickets are expected to go on sale Friday, according to the Napa on Ice Facebook page.

joanelle bala September 28, 2011 at 03:31 PM
I must say I didn't think twice about an ice rink here in Napa, and couldn't care too much.... However, now that it appears to be right around the corner, well, it's starting to sound like a great idea. When there is so much nay sayers about the lack of anything to do in town, nothing for kids to do, nothing for tourists (except drink wine). You know, I'm pretty excited! WTH? Parking can be overrated if there isn't much to come to downtown for. Think about it, what have we got to lose? Didn't think I cared, but now I can't wait to ice skate!
Frank Davidson September 28, 2011 at 03:43 PM
I think the ice rink is a great idea!! Why drive all the way to the San Francisco to ice skate for the holidays? The only other two ice rinks are in Vacaville and Santa Rosa...This will give our kids something to do and maybe the parents will shop downtown while their kids skate. I don't think parking will be as big of an issue as people are worried about. Let's try it! My concern is that there is proper supervision at the rink.
Veronica September 28, 2011 at 04:28 PM
I've been excited about the idea of the ice rink since I first heard about it. I wish there were more ideas that benefitted Napa's youth. NVUSD is off for 1 week at Thanksgiving and 3 weeks during winter break - what a great option this will be, even if just a place to get together with friends. I agree with those who want to give this a chance before condemning it. If it gets busy enough to where parking really does become a problem, guess what? That means there are more people coming downtown! How can merchants have concerns when the alternative is the struggling downtown area that often resembles a ghost town. A smart move for businesses in close proximity to the ice rink would be to keep their doors open longer, serve hot chocolate or tea - join in instead of taking a 'scrooge' stance.

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