JOHNSTOWN, N.Y. (NEWS10) — 25 years ago, a retired Gloversville, N.Y., art teacher, Mary Cleland, sculpted a vision for a place people in Fulton County could go to to enjoy winter activities. Now that dream is quickly becoming a reality.
“Children having a place to go, number one, after school, with their skates slung over their shoulder, and setting up teams…to play hockey….or just to go in there, and race; those are the two things that you think of when you think of a hockey rink,” said Cleland.
That’s the image Cleland had in mind when she created the idea for a winter recreational facility near Caroga Lake in 1997. 25 years later, Tim Rizzo, a town councilman in Johnstown, N.Y., has revived that vision, and is in the beginning stages of bringing the Upstate Ice Plex to life.
But he gives a lot of the credit to Cleland for laying the foundation of the project.
“Her paperwork and her history…was by far the biggest support towards this entire design build,” said Rizzo. “She had a lot of paperwork there, and everything, but it lacked a report. So I started writing a report, and comparing to other rink facilities. When you read the history, and the support, I went back and double checked it to see if it was still there, and they were like, “Yes. We’re on this.”
The Ice Plex will include two hockey rinks, a fitness center, a curling rink, and more. It’s a facility residents believe is long overdue.
“Not having an ice arena…between…Utica to Schenectady; we are missing this type of…activity in sports,” said Julie Glover, the Upstate Ice Plex media and events officer, who is also a resident of Fulton County. “It’s going to be such a benefit to our area.”
Development of the Ice Plex is still in the very early stages, but Rizzo is encouraged by the traction the project has gained thus far.
“The cards are starting to line up,” said Rizzo. “The things are starting to come together. But the most important thing right now is to drive our donation drive; get the donations up. If things can move faster with the government funds, we believe that we could be probably completed by 2025.”
Knowing the good the Ice Plex will do for her community, the progress the project has made is one of the great joys of Cleland’s life.
“I think it’s absolutely wonderful, and it could bring tears to my eyes, except my heart…wouldn’t take it,” said Cleland. “I absolutely love children. And I want them to experience some of the wonderful things that I did as a child.”
Donations can be made by visiting the link below.