Dillon Ice Castles will return this winter
DILLON — The Ice Castles are returning to Town Park.
The Dillon Town Council unanimously voted to approve a resolution at its regular meeting Tuesday night, authorizing the town to enter into a new contract with Ice Castles LLC that would keep the castles in town for the 2019-20 winter.
The decision comes following criticism from the town’s Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee (PRAC) which has voiced concerns over the last two years about the state of the park after the castles came down — noting both damage to the park’s lawn and the amount of time the park is unavailable to the general public into the spring months.
In June, PRAC members again noted that the continuation of the Ice Castles at the Town Park might be somewhat counterintuitive to future plans for the park. Earlier this year, the town completed a $1.2 million improvement on infrastructure surrounding the park — primarily in regards to parking and roadway upgrades on Buffalo and La Bonte streets — along with replacing two of the park’s tennis courts.
But improvements are set to continue next spring. The town currently has more than $1 million budgeted for a new multi-use field and playground at the park. And with plans to tear up the lawn ahead of next summer, the town and Ice Castles have another chance to prove the castles can come and go without any major damage.
The contract outlines protections for the town to prevent damage, including a requirement the company “restore the premises to the condition that existed prior to the user’s use as soon as reasonably possible,” and a $10,000 damage deposit in case the park isn’t restored. There are also efforts to better regulate how long the castles will be on the land.
“They recognize that it’s a desire of ours, and they’ll be implementing new processes to try and speed things up,” said Kerstin Anderson, Dillon’s marketing and communications director. “They will do the haul off like they have in the past, but they will grind the ice and won’t wait to melt out the lighting materials in order to accelerate that haul off.”
The contract allows Ice Castles to utilize the land from Oct. 15 to May 30. If the company isn’t expecting to meet the deadline because of weather concerns, they will have to establish a new removal and field restoration timeline with the town by May 15.
Town staff will likely closely monitor the timelines, especially as representatives with Ice Castles and the town begin discussions for a potential multi-year deal between the entities. Of note, Dan Beck, a representative with Ice Castles, said that the company would be willing to partner on cost-sharing initiatives for things like better drainage infrastructure if a multi-year deal eventually gets put in place.
“They’ve committed to more resources,” Anderson said. “And they understand that if they can’t get out of there earlier it’s probably a non-starter in terms of any future relationship.”
Otherwise, the contract resembles the previous one from last year, requiring Ice Castles to pay for their own water needs, and outlining proper use of the venue including things like snowplowing responsibilities, signage and food sales.
Amid concerns about the Ice Castle’s impact on the park’s condition there is also the consideration of the economic impact to the area. Dillon city officials estimate the city garnered about $2 million in media exposure to the town through the last iteration, along with steady sales tax revenues that have maintained a positive impact to the core area since 2017.
Businesses in the area have also expressed that the Ice Castles help to drive patronage during the winter months.
“There are a lot of tourists that come in to see the castles,” said Manuel Gomez, owner of Tacos Tequila Restaurant near the Town Park, who said he’s excited to see the castles return. “I’ve noticed we’ve gotten a lot of business when the Ice Castles are here, there’s a lot of people coming to my restaurant.”
“I’m very happy about it,” added Jeremy Szeszulski, who took over ownership of Cameez Ice Cream in July. “Cameez is all for it. From what I know Ice Castle season is our best season, and is for everyone in this building. It draws a lot of business here.”
Other business owners said that with construction in the area — notably the incoming Uptown 240 and Hilton Homewood Suites developments — pedestrian traffic has been lacking of late, and the castles help to push people into the town core.
“They brought so many people in, especially to the town core where there’s all the construction going on and we recently lost Adriano’s (Bistro),” said Cindy Trimble, owner of Café ProFusion. “There have been fewer people coming to the town core. But the Ice Castles really bring people in. They want to get there ahead of time, and they walk around to check out the area. It’s really helped things out.”
Representatives with Ice Castles are expected to being preparing for the build as early as next week.
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