The city of Kodiak’s Parks and Recreation Department is set to receive $263,900 in federal money for a $3.1 million project to enclose and upgrade the Baranof Ice Rink. 

The funding will allow the department to purchase flooring for an indoor walking track, outdoor workout stations, community ice skates and helmets, scoreboards for the ice rink and new safety glass for the ice rink. It will also pay for some staffing expenses. 

The money will come from the Coronavirus Aid Relief and Economic Security Act.

The state set aside $35 million of CARES Act money for Coronavirus Nonprofit Relief Fund Grants, which provide emergency relief to a range of Alaskan organizations, from nonprofits to tribal organizations, housing authorities and local governments. 

The grant is offered through the Alaska Community Foundation in partnership with the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services. 

In its application for the funding, the city said that during the winter months more activities will be pushed indoors. However, because of restrictions to stop the spread of COVID-19, many indoor workout spaces have limited capacity, and some could temporarily close. The upgrades to the ice rink will allow community members to stay active when colder temperatures arrive.  

The Kodiak Hockey League has partnered with the Friends of Baranof fundraising group to help raise money for the upgrade project, and the city has contributed $100,000. 

Many people have come out in support of the upgrades because of the indoor track, which they say will benefit senior citizens and the general public during the winter months. 

Some critics of the project have said that the city suffers from aging infrastructure, and there are more urgent priorities that need to be funded. 

Phase 1 of the project started earlier this year after the Kodiak City Council approved a $66,288 proposal by the ECI Alaska architectural firm for an initial design of the enclosed ice rink. 

At a city council meeting last Thursday, councilors voted to approve the grant funds. City of Kodiak Mayor Pat Branson said city staff has worked hard to find funding. 

“The city doesn’t have any grant writer per se. Our department heads have gone beyond the call of duty for writing grants for each of their departments,” she said. “I’m very proud of them, especially for kicking this off. This is a great kick off for fundraising for the new recreation center.”

Councilor John Whiddon said he was familiar with Coronavirus Nonprofit Relief Fund Grants, which are very competitive and difficult to obtain. He reiterated that city staff worked hard behind the scenes, which is not always noticed. 

“I’d like to compliment staff, especially Mr. Corey Gronn, for pursuing this,” he said. “To get this amount of money at this time was really well done. This goes a long way to meeting our funding goals to get the Baranof Park completed.”

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