Kyle Lanzer / Cleveland Metroparks
Merwin's Wharf, from the Cuyahoga
At Thursday morning's Cleveland Metroparks board meeting, park commissioners voted to begin negotiations with a third-party vendor who will bring an ice rink to the parking lot of Merwin's Wharf.
Merwin's, the Metroparks restaurant on the Cuyahoga River at Rivergate Park, had been closed for several months during the pandemic. It re-opened in September and, according to the Metroparks, plans to stay open through winter. Per the agreement, the rink would open in late November and remain open for use until Jan. 17. The current agreement would be in place for three winters, but the Metroparks retains the right to terminate the agreement at any time without cause.
The idea for the ice rink came from CEO Brian Zimmerman. Under the pilot program which the board approved Thursday, the company Artificial Ice Events will provide a rink, equipment and training to CMP staff for day-to-day operations. CMP is entitled to keep revenues generated by the rink, but will pay an annual fee of $97,000.
Zimmerman cited the history of ice skating on Cleveland Metroparks ponds and seasonal rinks, and mentioned Thursday that he was always on the lookout for new ways to allow guests to enjoy the park district and stay active.
The rink is also, no doubt, an attempt to lure patrons back to Merwin's Wharf. The proposed agenda item called ice skating in the parking lot a "great outdoor recreation activity coupled with dining and beverages." (Given the sharp rise in Covid-19 cases this week, prefiguring an Autumn surge, guests should enjoy the ice rink, but avoid the restaurant.)
Artificial Ice Events is named for its product, which is not real ice and which allows for ice-skating even on warm days. Such a product will be necessary now and in the future, as the planet just recorded its warmest September on record.
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