HALLOWELL — An official groundbreaking for the new Kennebec Ice Arena is planned for next week.

Construction crews have already been working for weeks to demolish structures left after the collapse of the arena’s roof nearly a year ago. This week, crews were busily preparing a foundation for the new arena.

The groundbreaking event is scheduled for 10 a.m. Thursday at the arena site on Whitten Road. The ceremony is expected to draw many guests and locals, and invitations are being sent to people with an interest in the arena’s future.

Winthrop resident Priscilla Millier, a founder of the Skating Club of Maine, said she’s pleased that work is under way on the new arena.

“We’re very, very, very fortunate. It’s a wonderful opportunity,” she said. “And I think it will be an opportunity not only to enlarge our figure skating and our hockey programs, but to bring other events into the building that we will all enjoy.”

Facility Manager K.C. Johnson on Friday declined to discuss plans for the new building, saying such details would be revealed at the groundbreaking ceremony.

“We’re trying to keep it under wraps and do the unveiling there,” Johnson said.

The old arena’s roof collapsed last March 2 under the weight of a heavy load of snow and ice. At the time, police said it was a miracle nobody was injured when the roof came crashing down about 3 p.m.

The three people who were inside during the roof collapse were all adult employees or volunteers. There were no events scheduled at the time of the collapse, which happened during a brief break between a public skate and youth hockey.

Kennebec Ice Arena owner Peter Prescott, who did not return a call on Friday, has said that working with his insurance company and then securing financing for a rebuild has held up the project.

Hallowell Code Enforcement Officer Maureen Aucoin said the new arena will be built with structural insulated panels. Much of the new building will be pre-fabricated and delivered on site. “The doors and windows are already in these panels,” Aucoin said. “It snaps together really quickly.”

Prescott secured a tax break from the city of Hallowell in September to help finance the cost of building the new arena. Under the tax increment financing agreement, the city will reimburse property taxes on the value of the building, projected at $4 million, for the first 10 years of the deal.

That would save Prescott $612,000, while also providing a tax benefit for the city to invest in economic development.

The tax deal still must be approved by the Maine Department of Economic and Community Development. Hallowell will submit the agreement to the state after the city’s total valuation is assessed on April 1, City Manager Michael Starn said.

Susan McMillan — 621-5645

[email protected]

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