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WHEATFIELD – The current season of the outdoor ice rink in Lewiston’s Academy Park received Niagara River Greenway funding Monday.

The Host Communities Standing Committee, which controls Greenway grants in Niagara County, gave the Town of Lewiston $156,640 for this winter’s operations of the rink.

Town Supervisor Steven L. Reiter said attendance at the free-admission rink already has matched the 7,500 to 8,000 skaters it drew all last season.

The rink opened Dec. 1 and is scheduled to close Feb. 1, although that may be extended, town grant writer Bernie Rotella told the committee. This is the second season for the refrigerated rink, which can operate even if the temperature is above freezing.

“Every night I’ve gone out there, even with the rain, there are people out there skating,” Reiter said. And many are coming from outside Lewiston. “It’s a regional thing, it’s a community-wide thing.”

The town acquired the 38-by-68-foot portable rink from a company called Ice Rinks 2 Go on a four-year, rent-to-own basis.

The host communities panel gave Lewiston $134,000 in October 2011 for the first season of skating. Reiter said the town expects to return for more Greenway money for the next two years.

“In a couple years, we’ll have it paid off, and we won’t even be talking about this,” he said.

Reiter said the town’s revenue from $5 skate rentals and concessions sales has risen 35 percent from last year, although he didn’t have the dollar figures handy.

Improvements to the park as a result of the rink will help with other events held there, such as the Peach Festival and various art shows, the supervisor said.

A warming tent stands near the rink, and rubber sheeting protects the park’s grass. Reiter said some of the flooring this year was acquired in the dispersal sale of equipment from the London Olympics.

The Host Communities Standing Committee was created in the wake of the 2005 relicensing agreement for the Niagara Power Project. It receives $3 million a year from the New York Power Authority to distribute for Greenway projects in Niagara County.

The committee includes representatives from the county, the towns of Lewiston and Niagara, the City of Niagara Falls, the Lewiston-Porter, Niagara Wheatfield and Niagara Falls school districts, and the Power Authority.

Monday’s was the 51st grant the committee has approved since 2008.

The committee learned it will be looking for a new chairman later this year, as Donald Rappold, assistant superintendent at Lew-Port, will be retiring from the school June 30. Superintendent Christopher Roser announced the news to the committee Monday.

email: tprohaska@buffnews.com