A $3.3 million renovation to the skating rink at the Tarken Recreation Center is expected to begin in June.
As a part of a private-public partnership with the City of Philadelphia, the Ed Snider Youth Hockey Foundation will fully enclose the rink located at 6250 Frontenac St. by matching a $6.5 million grant from the state’s Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program.
City Councilwoman Marian Tasco announced the news from the Oxford Circle section of her district at Thursday’s City Council meeting, noting that a West Oak Lane rink had undergone a similar makeover.
Scanlon Ice Rink in Northeast Philadelphia, Laura Sims Skate House in West Philadelphia and the Simons Recreation Center in West Oak Lane were all open-air outdoor rinks that operated just 12 weeks a year until the foundation stepped in.
More than a rink
In addition to upgrading the rink, improvements will also be made to the supporting buildings to enhance educational offerings like tutoring and help with homework. A life-skills curriculum will also be added to help teach communication skills, the importance of first impressions and how to handle peer pressure and bullying.
The services are completely free of cost to the program’s participants, but they are required to attend school daily and foundation programming.
Tasco said she believes the upgrade will allow families to participate in a year-round activity at the recreation center already well known for its successful public-skating program and community-based hockey program.
“Our purpose is to be able to use the resources and experience that we have and take a good game and make it better,” said Scott Sharp, Ed Snider Youth Hockey Foundation’s president. “We we really want is to just expand on what they have and do more of the same.”
Sharp also said that since the renovations, attendance at the rinks has nearly tripled from 30,000 to 84,000.
Eric Kurtz, who serves as Tarken’s assistant recreation leader, is looking forward the upgrade that will allow kids who couldn’t afford it otherwise the opportunity to participate.
“It’s a nice merger for both programs because a lot of our kids participate in Ed Snider program,” said Kurtz. “The fact they can get free ice time from the foundation is a good thing.”
The improvement project is expected to be complete by the end of October.