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A community-wide effort to raise the funds needed to fully enclose the Cass Park Arena continues under the auspices of the Friends of the Ithaca Youth Bureau (FIYB), the nonprofit organization that facilitates support for the Ithaca Youth Bureau (IYB), announced FIYB President Jeff Love and Cass Campaign Chair Mary Grainger.

More than $25,000 was raised through the campaign's two fall events, Celebrate Cass! 45th Anniversary Party and the Enclose Cass Extravaganza. In addition, over $30,000 was contributed by event sponsors. A campaign grand total will be announced in early 2018 after Giving Tuesday on November 28 and end-of-calendar-year support is received.

Public funding will also be an important part of the capital project. The City of Ithaca Common Council recently approved the IYB's Request for Capital Funding ($100,000). Last spring the IYB was awarded a Tourism Capital Grant ($50,000) from the Tompkins County Tourism Program funded by the local hotel room occupancy tax for initiatives that promote economic development and enhance local quality of life.

The Anniversary Party Committee included Richie Moran, Mary Grainger, Amy Cronin, Deanna St. Denis, Jill Burlington, Jeremy Downs, Cathy Cook, Debbie Whitehead, Fay Cokeley, Lita Remsen, Erin Oates, Ben Syer, Becca Leshinski, Nancy Toffolo, and Karen Besemer; and the Friends of Ithaca Youth Bureau (FIYB) Board. Volunteers included Ithaca High Girls and Boys Varsity Hockey players, and Phi Gamma Delta brothers from Cornell. The event's success was also due to the great food and service provided by the Country Club of Ithaca, face paint by Cami Johnson, and music by The Blind Spots.

Enclose Cass Extravaganza showed loud and clear that the whole community wants to help fund the glass enclosure: 13 teams played Broomball, 40 raised funds via Skate-a-thon, 35 Silent Auction items were donated and then won by highest bidders, and countless generous folks bought from Silo Food Truck and the Extravaganza Baked Goods and Beverage Sale!! Silo Truck contributed a percentage of their sales to the cause.

The Cass Park Campaign's goal of $1 million supports upgrades that retain the arena's traditional charm while making the city-owned and managed facility more sustainable and successful, according to Grainger.

"Cass Park is a four-season community resource that was first opened in November 1972 as an open-air ice rink," said Grainger, who encourages everyone who has benefited from its 45 years of "fun, fitness and friendships" to participate in the campaign.

In 2017, Cass Park Arena is one of few open-air rinks remaining in upstate New York. The enclosure will provide: dehumidified 'conditioned' air; ventilation, insulation, and adaptations for climate change; longer season for ice surface; improved conditions for spectators and skaters; and additional opportunities for rental income year-round. After the enclosure project is funded, there is a vision for an addition to the lobby and new locker rooms.

Recreation Facilities Director and Cass Park Manager Jim Dalterio described the roof and ceiling renovation project funded by the City of Ithaca and completed in 2016: "This important project was needed first for the health and safety of arena users during all seasons, and also it was necessary before the glass enclosure could be built."

Dalterio also explained how much more efficient operations will be once enclosed, and how he anticipates increased economic impact once Cass Park can extend the ice skating season and improve seating for spectators. While there are many advantages of a functional enclosure, he is committed to maintaining the iconic character and style.

"It's time for community involvement in support of the important facility improvements," Grainger said. "We need to improve Cass Park Arena conditions and ensure access future generations and for today's users."

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