This file photo from 2009 shows the sign for Acadia Skating Association, which once hoped to build an ice rink just south of what is now Marden's on Route 3. ELLSWORTH AMERICAN FILE PHOTO BY JACQUELINE WEAVER

Plan for arena near high school not first idea for ice rink in city

ELLSWORTH — Tell anyone there’s a group looking to build an ice rink in the city, and the reaction from any local listener will likely be the same.

“Oh yeah, the one that wanted to build out there past Marden’s on Route 3, right?”

Well in this case, actually, no. Acadia Arena at Whitney Landing is a new non-profit group that wants to build a multi-use arena (which would include an ice rink) on land near Ellsworth High School.

It is a different entity than Acadia Skating Association, the group that sought to build the rink on Route 3.

That vision, of a venue for competitive figure skating and hockey as well as recreational public skating, dates back to 1995. It gained traction in 2000 with a donation by Rebecca MacQuinn of 13 acres of land next to what was then Walmart.

The original plans for Acadia Skating called for a 70,000-square-foot, two-story structure. By 2005, that plan had been scaled back to 40,000 square feet, and the second story was no longer a certainty.

The initial price tag was $5.5 million, later scaled down to $3 million and then to $2 million. The group did a lot of fundraising — a 2005 article in the American said Acadia Skating had “raised $800,000 in donations and pledges, including in-kind gifts of services — but also spent a lot trying to raise more money.

A 2009 article in the American said the group “spent more than $200,000 in donations on professional fundraising and other strategies.”

Jack Schmelzer took over as president of Acadia Skating in 2008 and said when he did “we had zero money.” That was in 2008, and the picture has not brightened considerably since then for the organization.

Its most recent IRS tax return, filed in the spring of 2016, shows the group closed out 2015 with $450 in cash, savings and investments. Its only income since 2011, according to that return, has been $2 in interest.

Acadia Skating still owns the land on Route 3 — MacQuinn donated a second parcel, of 4.4 acres, in 2005 — and that is the group’s biggest asset.

The group struggles to keep that, however. City records show taxes due in September on the two parcels have not yet been paid, and taxes from last year also were not paid which resulted in liens being placed on the properties.

Steve Fuller

Steve Fuller

Reporter at The Ellsworth American,
Steve Fuller worked at The Ellsworth American from 2012 to early 2018. He covered the city of Ellsworth, including the Ellsworth School Department and the city police beat, as well as the towns of Amherst, Aurora, Eastbrook, Great Pond, Mariaville, Osborn, Otis and Waltham. A native of Waldo County, he served as editor of Belfast's Republican Journal prior to joining the American. He lives in Orland.
Steve Fuller

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