Chamber of Commerce proposes 150-foot Winterfest Ice Mountain
It might not be a “looker” itself, like the snowman in 1999 and his female counterpart almost a decade later, but like both its winter-attraction predecessors it should attract plenty of “looker people” (in the words of Robin Zinchuck) to Bethel.
“It” in this case would be a 150-foot-tall ice mountain, the envisioned centerpiece of Winterfest 2011, set for Jan. 22-30.
The Bethel Area Chamber of Commerce, of which Zinchuk is executive director, has received permission from the Bethel Planning Board to build the mountain in Bethel Station, but only if the chamber reaches agreement with the Bethel Water District about providing the necessary water.
And that would be a lot of water – enough to freeze up into about 125,000 cubic feet of ice, weighing in at 7.5 million pounds, according to the calculations of engineer Jim Sysko.
That boils down to plus or minus a million gallons, according to BWD Superintendent Lucien Roberge.
At their most recent meeting, following a discussion with Sysko, the BWD Board of Trustees voted unanimously to provide the water, as long as the chamber pays what residential users would pay – about $2,400 in this case.
But the chamber would prefer not to pay.
After the board's vote, Board Chairman Brent Angevine said: “Robin contacted us asking for another chance to try to sway us into giving them the water, donating the water to the project.”
“I told her that the trustees felt, per vote, that it was not in the best interests of the ratepayers to give the water away,” Angevine said.
But the trustees did agree to let her make her case, at a public meeting on Thursday, Dec. 9, at 7 p.m. in the Town Office meeting room.
“Any and all people willing to speak their piece will have a chance to,” Angevine said.
Zinchuk said Wednesday that the chamber hopes to meet also with the Bethel Board of Selectmen, at their regular meeting Monday evening, in an effort to enlist their support.
Paying for the water, she said, “would kill the project – we just don't have those kinds of resources.”
If the ice-mountain does become a reality, it's likely to have one attraction even the snowman and snow-woman lacked.
“We've spoken to ice climbers who are interested in doing demonstrations,” Zinchuk said.
And this year's effort would also be little easier on its less athletic local supporters.
“The great thing about this project is that it does not require a lot of physical labor,” she said.
“The snow maze last year was a real undertaking for an aging group of volunteers.”