With expected purchase of former Northwest River Supplies building and continued fundraising, full-size facility could be in place in Moscow by late next year

By Garrett Cabeza, Moscow Pullman Daily News

The  Palouse Ice Rink is expected to purchase the former Northwest River Supplies building on the south end of Moscow and convert it into the permanent full-sized ice rink officials have been working toward for years.

Palouse Ice Rink board member Steve Bush said he hopes to have a purchase and sale agreement signed by early November.

Tony Mangini, vice president of the Palouse Ice Rink board who also serves as chief financial officer at NRS, said the sale of the 44,000-square-foot facility on U.S. Highway 95/South Main Street would then close in about 90 days.

The building is owned by Bill and Donna Parks. Bill Parks founded Moscow-based NRS, a worldwide leader in paddlesports equipment and apparel, in 1972.

Mangini said the ice rink would be called Parks Activity and Recreation Center after the Parks couple.

He said the Parks’ building was listed on the market for $4.3 million but the Parks offered a price that is “significantly less” than the listing price.

Parks, 86, said he was surprised the new facility would be named after him and his wife and that he “certainly wasn’t wasn’t requesting it.”

Parks said he is by no means a hockey or ice skating fanatic, but was happy to negotiate the sale of his building at the reduced cost.

“Frankly, I’m more about what it will mean for the children,” Parks said. “I’ve known through the years people whose kids have enjoyed it, and people I respect are highly committed to (the rink).”

The Palouse Ice Rink board has been fundraising to demolish the existing ice rink at the Latah County Fairgrounds in Moscow and build a new $5 million rink in its place. But Mangini saw potential in the former NRS headquarters as an ice rink when NRS was moving out of the building and into its newly built facility on South Blaine Street last November.

“When our warehouse crew was clearing out the shelving, it dawned on me that the space in the western half of the building looked roughly about the dimensions of an ice rink, which led to conversations with different people,” Mangini said.

“As I asked more questions, the more things lined up as a potential for this to work, and so that’s kind of what got the ball rolling,” he added.

Mangini said the goal would be to start remodeling in February and have a grand opening in October, but construction depends on fundraising. The remodel would cost about $3 million — $2 million cheaper than building a new facility at the fairgrounds.

The ice rink board has raised $1.8 million toward the project, including the Moscow City Council’s $1 million commitment from the city’s Hamilton Fund.

Christina Randal, Palouse Ice Rink fundraising consultant, said she hopes to raise $1.25 million over the next six months so the board has money to start construction. She said she is also speaking to local banks about financing.

City Supervisor Gary Riedner said the city council would need to approve the $1 million commitment again since the Palouse Ice Rink’s plans have changed. Moscow City Councilor Art Bettge said he would not have a problem making the $1 million commitment again.

“I think we’re much more interested in continuing the ice rink wherever it may land,” he said.

The construction would be done in two phases, Mangini said. The first phase would include the installation of the ice surface and meeting requirements for occupancy, and the second phase would be putting in locker rooms and other amenities.

Mangini said about 10,000 square feet of the building would not be part of the project and would possibly be leased to help cover the interest of the loan to acquire the property.

“Our feeling is the community is ready for a positive moment given the things we’ve been dealing with in 2020, and I think the biggest challenge we’ve faced as an organization from the beginning is people not really believing we’re anything more than wishful thinkers,” Mangini said.

He said allowing people to walk through the former NRS building allows them to visualize what the ice rink would look like.

“It becomes very real,” Mangini said. “So I think that really helps a lot. I think there’s going to be a number of people in the community that are just going to want to see this happen … So we’re really excited and I hope that people choose to get on board and help us make this thing a reality.”

Latah County Commissioner Tom Lamar said it is too early to say what the future would hold for the property the existing ice rink sits on, but that county officials would figure out the best way to utilize the space.

Mangini said the existing Palouse Ice Rink opened last weekend with COVID-19 safety protocols in place.

Garrett Cabeza can be reached at (208) 883-4631, or by email to gcabeza@dnews.com.