Lakes Region awaits outcome of arena vote

Under a proposed reconstruction plan, Pop Whalen Ice & Arts Arena would be razed, then rebuilt, with an addition located at the right of the existing structure.

With its Fall 2022 season hanging in the balance, Lakes Region Curling awaits Wolfeboro voters’ verdict on a proposed $6 million reconstruction of Pop Whalen Ice and Arts Center. Article 11 on this year’s Wolfeboro Town Warrant addresses the town’s share of funding for the work.

The article proposes to appropriate the $6.93 million required to raze the current arena and build an expanded structure in its place. If approved, the work is planned for an April-December timeframe, which would preclude a Fall league for the LRCA. That said, the improvements planned for the facility would be well worth it.

The town would actually raise $4.28 million by bond, and the Friends of Pop Whalen, a community organization, would provide $2.7 million towards the project. This public/private partnership follows the model used in recent years to renovate Wolfeboro Town Hall, build the Abenaki ski lodge, and expand Wolfeboro Public Library.

Improvements to Pop Whalen would include dehumidification and improved insulation, bringing an end to the fog and dripping that have so often marred curling matches in October. Also included would be an expanded foyer/viewing area, new locker rooms and meeting spaces, and new spectator seating.

For the LRCA, the changes would provide better access to the ice when moving stones and other equipment and would eliminate the need to use the bench areafor those purposes. In addition, a new, more welcoming facility opens the possibility of hosting curling tournaments in Wolfeboro in the future.

If passed, the warrant article would have no tax impact this year, $0.15 per $1000 of assessed valuation for 2023, and $0.12 per $1000 of assessed valuation in 2024. The measure was recommended by the Board of Selectmen 4-0 and by the Budget Committee 8-0.

Voting on the Town Warrant takes place on Tuesday, March 8.