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January 30. 2014 11:39PM

Landmark Berlin arena getting update

BERLIN — While winter hangs on, the directors of Notre Dame Arena in downtown Berlin are already thinking spring.

That’s when they plan to get started on a $300,000 renovation project at the 67-year-old skating rink building that’s one of New Hampshire’s oldest indoor ice facilities, according to Mark Dorval, board president.

“We got a very generous grant from the Tillotson Fund, and a favorable loan for $85,000,” Dorval said Thursday. The Neil and Louise Tillotson Fund gave $100,000 for the project.

The loan came from Northway Bank in Berlin. The directors expect to get the remainder from planned fundraising efforts, including charity poker events, Dorval said.

Notre Dame Arena has, for decades, been the site of scores of youth and adult hockey programs, including the Berlin High School boys’ and girls’ teams.

There are bleachers, Dorval said, but most of the 1,680 fans on hand when the arena’s full prefer to stand. In spring and summer, when the ice is gone, the directors make the building available to local schools for field days and to residents for various types of indoor ball games.

“It’s had countless” updating projects done to it over the years, Dorval said, since its 1947 founding by the Catholic Diocese of Manchester.

For example, new hockey boards for the rink, a dehumidifier and new lighting were all added in 2007.

Before that, however, the arena on High Street had to be put back together when the notable North Country snow load of 1968-’69 collapsed its roof.

But the job was completed and the rink was returned to service for the following winter, said Dorval, who Thursday declared the 12 board members who now own the arena “thrilled” as they anticipate the proposed new project.

AR Couture Construction Corp. of Berlin will be general contractor, and the work is scheduled to be completed Aug. 1, just prior to the return of the earliest youth hockey programs.

Dorval said the directors ask all who wish to contribute to the effort to send checks labeled “project” to: Notre dame Arena, P.O. Box 338, Berlin 03570.

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