Community Groups Talking About Ways To Save Fenton Chester Ice Arena

Fenton Chester Ice Arena, Lyndon Center

Informal discussions have begun about saving the Fenton Chester Ice Arena in Lyndon.

That’s according to Lyndon Selectman Dan Daley who updated the board about the aging facility on Monday night.

The arena did not open this winter forcing several youth hockey organizations to find new ice at arenas as far away as Barre and Jay.

Daley told the board that he and town administrator Justin Smith recently met with LAYHA President Andrew McGregor, Rep. Scott Beck of St. Johnsbury and Lyndon Institute’s Mike Lowe to talk about ideas to re-open the arena next fall.

“Right now people are looking at whether or not we can use some COVID money to open up,” said Daley. “I had a conversation with a structural engineer about doing some assessment of the building - structurally what needs to be done. So, we’re just working on that… It is on our radar. We have started to look at what it’s going to take to open Fenton Chester in the fall.”

The 41-year-old facility is owned by the Town of Lyndon.

But Lyndon Institute, which is located across the street from the arena, has been operating and managing the facility for the past five years.

Lyndon Institute, whose arena agreement with the town expires this summer, announced last fall that it would not re-open the arena due to financial concerns made worse by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Daley was asked on Monday if LI intended to renew the agreement.

“Not necessarily,” said Daley. “There was some discussion about who would manage it and there were some ideas thrown out but nothing I think that we want to share now.”

LI’s decision impacted three area high school hockey programs (the St. Johnsbury Academy and Lyndon Institute boys and Kingdom Blades cooperative girls) as well as LAYHA and its membership which includes skaters from age 4 to 14.

St. Johnsbury Academy has taken part in prior discussions about the future of the ice arena.

SJA Headmaster Dr. Sharon Howell said Tuesday in an email statement that the Academy will continue to be involved in those discussions.

“SJA is still very interested in making sure hockey stays viable for our students and for the youth programs, so we are glad to be part of the ongoing conversation,” said Howell. “There is a great group of leaders working together right now, all of whom want to see our kids have a good place to skate, and we are gratefully and enthusiastically involved.”

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