The Greater Santa Barbara Ice Skating Association (GSBISA) is seeking donors and sponsors to help build an ice skating rink near Camino Real Marketplace in Goleta. The organization has thus far received just over $2 million, and will begin construction when $4 million more has been donated to the project.

Wynmark Co., the developer of Camino Real Marketplace, secured approval in 1997 to install a rink just behind Home Depot that will measure 44,000 square feet. Architect David Van Hoy has drawn building plans, and the GSBISA hopes to initiate the project soon.

Kathy Mintzer, president of the GSBISA, is anxious to make this dream a reality. “We want to break ground,” Mintzer said. “We want to have this thing for the kids. I can’t tell you how many families approach me every week asking whether this thing is going to happen, and I always say, ‘Hopefully soon, as soon as we can get the rest of the financing.'”

As a mother, Mintzer feels that Santa Barbara lacks a variety of kid-friendly activities, and feels that an ice rink will be able to at least partially fill that void.

“I really, strongly believe that this town needs more activities for youth and kids and families,” she said. “We have limited opportunities for families-it’s pretty much Zodo’s or the movies. Unless kids are involved in an organized sport, there aren’t a lot of safe and supervised and fun places they can go.”

Marietta Jablonka, campaign administrator for the GSBISA, echoes Mintzer’s concern that the area doesn’t offer children much in the way of recreational opportunities.

“We want all the kids in our community to be able to get to use this rink. There’s just really not enough to do here,” she said. “I’m a mom and I can tell you, there’s just not enough for kids to do.”

Mintzer mentioned a recent increase in gang activity and in drug and alcohol consumption in the area, and said that Santa Barbara County has a higher average juvenile arrest rate than does the State of California. She said this kind of situation should warrant the development of some alternative activities for local youth.

“You know, when kids don’t have enough to do, they find something to do, and it’s not always what we would like them to do,” she said with a chuckle.

Mintzer said that because the project is nonprofit, user fees will be low to accommodate as many children as possible.

She also said that the GSBISA has plans to collaborate with some community groups like the Boys & Girls Club of Santa Barbara and the YMCA, in order to launch ice-skating camps and organized activities for kids at the much-anticipated ice rink.

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