Ice rink slated for Riley Park by winter

By: Sherri Kolade | Farmington Press | Published August 13, 2013

 John Riley, grandson of George F. Riley, representing the Riley Foundation, and Downtown Development Authority President Melissa Andrade unveiled the conceptual rendering of the Riley Ice Rink during a press conference Aug. 1.

John Riley, grandson of George F. Riley, representing the Riley Foundation, and Downtown Development Authority President Melissa Andrade unveiled the conceptual rendering of the Riley Ice Rink during a press conference Aug. 1.

Photo courtesy of the city of Farmington

FARMINGTON — After a $100,000 donation from the George F. Riley Foundation for an ice rink at Riley Park, city officials are eager to get the ball rolling on the next step: raising $150,000 before the rink’s scheduled December opening.

During an Aug. 1 press conference, Mayor Tom Buck said the foundation donated the seed money to help push along the city’s dream of having an ice rink.

Buck said the ice rink could spur economic growth in downtown Farmington.

“I believe that we’ve had a great series of activities and events going on in Farmington on an ongoing basis … but the winter season is typically quieter,” Buck said. “I think this rink totally changes that. We could literally have hundreds of people every day coming to enjoy the rink and patronizing businesses.”

The total cost to construct the refrigerated facility comes to $300,000.

Farmington City Manager Vincent Pastue said the city and the DDA are kicking in the remaining $50,000.

“That is enough to get what we need to get started,” Pastue said. “Additional money coming in from the community will put the icing on the cake. The ice rink will be a great community project.”

Annette Knowles, executive director of the Farmington Downtown Development Authority, said the roughly 4,800-square-foot oval rink would hold about 100 skaters.

“When you are in a downtown and trying to cultivate a walking environment, I think (the ice rink) will bring a destination or attraction to downtown that we didn’t have before,” she said.

The Riley family is well known for its contributions to legacy projects, such as Riley Park in downtown Farmington and the Riley Skate Park in Farmington Hills, as well as contributions to Detroit Public Television.

“Our family is quite pleased at how Riley Park in downtown Farmington has become a hub for families and friends to gather together and has also become a center for key events in Farmington,” George F. Riley of the Riley Foundation said in a city press release. “The Riley Foundation’s commitment to create the Riley Ice Rink creates a fourth season for activity in downtown.  We are excited to be able to support this worthwhile enhancement for families and friends enjoying the quality of life in our community.”

Knowles said the next step is to obtain proposals from companies to install the ice rink and obtain approval from the City Council, which is “procedural.”

“Our initial plan when we get in the proposals and everything is to have it installed in the beginning of December,” Knowles said.

She added that she would feel comfortable with at least three proposals in hand.

“There are not a substantial number of suppliers of outdoor refrigerated rinks available. We know of one at least, locally. We will most likely have to secure a proposal from multiple companies … out of the state.”

She said that although the DDA board won’t meet until September, they are aware of every step in the installation of the ice rink.

Additional support will be received from the city’s longtime contracted engineering firm, Orchard Hiltz & McCliment Advisors, which will donate time in-kind during the site design process, according to the press release.

A committee was recently formed to direct a fundraising campaign with the goal to raise $150,000; some fundraising activities include a fall family movie event and a snow ball in November.

Melissa Andrade, Downtown Development Authority president and chair of the organization committee and subcommittee that leads ice rink fundraising efforts, told C & G Newspapers that the talks about the ice rink began before the donation.

“We didn’t know we would get such a great, wonderful donation early in our venture,” she said. “(The ice rink) will make Riley Park a year-round destination. I’m picturing a Norman Rockwell kind of look.”

Farmington Hills resident Jodi Parrish told C & G Newspapers recently the ice rink sounds like a “great idea.”

“It sounds like fun for the whole family and a really good time,” she said.

Those interested in volunteering for the project are asked to call Knowles at (248) 473-7276 or email

All donations are welcome, and people who are interested in contributing to the project can submit a donation to the Riley Park Ice Rink in care of the Farmington DDA, 33316 Grand River Ave., or drop off Riley Ice Rink donations to the City Treasurer’s Office, 23600 Liberty St.

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