The volunteer operators of the Lewiston-Clarkston Valley’s only ice skating rink will likely get help with building upgrades from their landlord, the Port of Lewiston.

But the port’s commissioners declined a request to lower the lease rate for the facility at a Wednesday meeting and instead voted to keep it at $48,300 for the coming year.

Leaders of the Lewis Clark Amateur Hockey Association had asked for the commissioners to reduce that amount to $45,600 annually for the rink at 1521 Sixth Ave. N.

The organization is doing significantly better than it has in the past and has almost $30,000 in the bank, compared with an $18,110 deficit in 2017, said Dan McFetridge, the association’s treasurer.

But he’s worried that money won’t last long because of coming expenses estimated at as much as $10,000.

The association is replacing rental skates, lobby flooring and gear that’s rented to beginning players when they are deciding if hockey is a sport they want to pursue. It also needs to repair some of its ice-making equipment.

The port will look at subsidizing ceiling repairs and wall insulation, partly because that work could be considered part of maintaining the building, said Port Manager David Doeringsfeld.

Any assistance the port offers will support forms of recreation for young people that are gaining momentum, McFetridge said.

The group’s youngest team, for boys and girls between the ages of 4 and 6 years old, has grown from six players to 21 players, said Shawn Wentworth, a coach for the association.

“That is your teller of what the program is going to be,” he said.

The public skates on Friday and Saturday nights are popular for middle school students.

“It used to be a ghost town,” Wentworth said. “Now it’s packed.”

Still, the association faces issues, such as the fact that its rink is only two-thirds the size of a regulation hockey rink. That makes it difficult to stage tournaments that draw out-of-town visitors for anyone other than the youngest teams.

The commissioners suggested those challenges might be better addressed with partnerships with the city of Lewiston Parks and Recreation Department or the Boys & Girls Club of the Lewis Clark Valley, which are focused on youth activities.

“It would seem like a good marriage,” Commissioner Mike Thomason said.

Williams may be contacted at ewilliam@lmtribune.com or (208) 848-2261.

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