ITHACA, N.Y.—Construction has finally begun on the Enclose Cass Park project that has been in the works since 2016.

Located at 701 Taughannock Blvd., in Ithaca, New York, the project will fully enclose the rink, providing shelter and indoor climate control to improve ice conditions, which will also help lengthen the ice skating season. The enclosed space will also be used for additional community events and programming throughout the rest of the year.

The City of Ithaca has contracts with general contractors Bouley Associates and Knapp Electric and AFT Mechanical for all HVAC construction. Stantec Consulting Services is acting as the architect and engineer for the project, and Taitem Engineering is consulting.

The Ithaca Youth Bureau, engineering division of the Department of Public Works, Friends of the Ithaca Youth Bureau and community members from the area have been raising funds since 2016. The project also received additional funding from the City of Ithaca, a grant from the New York State Regional Economic Development Council and a state grant through former state Assemblymember Barbara Lifton. A full breakdown of the budget can be found here.

Mary Grainger of the FIYB said that she and the others on the project are “just thrilled” for the enclosure project to finally come to fruition and that a grand opening celebration will be held sometime this fall once construction is done so that the community can enjoy the newly renovated facility.

Since it first opened in 1972, the rink at Cass Park has been an open-air facility, meaning that it limited other uses of the space. Aside from hosting home hockey teams with the Ithaca Youth Hockey Association, Ithaca High School Varsity Hockey teams, Ithaca Adult Hockey Association and Tompkins Girls Hockey Association, summer camps, roller skating and other recreational activities typically use the space throughout the year.

“Cass Park is a hub of community activity and one of Ithaca’s finest treasures that serves people of all ages and abilities, with support from Friends of the Ithaca Youth Bureau, New York State grants and City of Ithaca project funds, we will see the Cass Arena enclosed this year,” Acting Mayor Laura Lewis said.

Though no other construction plans are anywhere near underway, the next project at Cass Park will likely be focused on the bathrooms, locker rooms and community space at the rink.

Zoë Freer-Hessler

Zoë Freer-Hessler is a general assignment reporter for the Ithaca Voice. She has covered a wide range of topics since joining the news organization in November 2021. She can be reached at zhessler@ithacavoice.com...