Fort Kent gets $500,000 grant for skating rink upgrade

2 weeks ago

FORT KENT, Maine – The town of Fort Kent was awarded half a million dollars by the Northern Border Regional Commission to upgrade and move its outdoor skating rink. The grant will help support Aroostook County’s outdoor recreation industry, according to a statement from the NBRC

The funding will cover half of the total project, which is estimated to cost $1 million. The current rink is located at Jalbert Park and has been in the community for nearly 50 years.

Fort Kent Town Manager Suzie Paradis said the town has been discussing the project since 2018 and that, originally, the idea was to just relocate the rink closer to the center of town. 

“In 2020, a Fort Kent Community High School senior presented this concept, but after discussions and meetings a few years later, it was then decided to begin planning stages of expansion of the rink at the Jalbert Park location,” Paradis said.

In addition to providing a new recreational spot, the upgrade will also help out the St. John Valley Muskies, a statewide youth hockey league that was recently created by Kyle Vachon.

The league is part of USA Hockey and Maine Amateur Hockey.

“[Vachon] currently has 55 students registered and travels to play in Rockport, Augusta, Orono, and within Aroostook County,” Paradis said. “When NBRC advertised outdoor recreation grants, I took the opportunity and applied so we may offer an area for our youth to practice and host games and tournaments.”

The new rink will be roughly 500 feet away from the existing rink at Jalbert Park.

Paradis said the town has not yet raised the remaining $500,000 needed for the project, but they are actively working on fundraising and additional grants.

At this point, however, it is too early to say when the project will begin or when it will finish.

“I’m looking forward to working on this project as this promotes community health, local development, job creation and economic growth for our region,” Paradis said.