The Brett Memorial Ice Arena in Wasilla is getting a major upgrade and will be closed all summer for renovations.

The Matanuska-Susitna Borough awarded the $3 million contract to FE Contracting Inc. That money is part of a $22 million parks and recreation bond voters passed in October 2016.

The Brett has been home to Valley ice skaters for more than 30 years. Instructor Kara Miller now gives lessons on the same ice where she learned to skate.

“I was homeschooled, so I spent most of my day here,” she said.

Miller said, as the only year-round rink in the Valley, the Brett has a special place in the community.

“I don’t know if this is going to sound weird but, I think it’s the heart of Wasilla,” she laughed.

But the facility is showing its age and the refrigeration system is almost obsolete.

“The current system uses a refrigerant called R22 that’s no longer manufactured. It’s becoming increasingly expensive and hard to get,” Borough Recreation and Library Manager Hugh Leslie explained. “We’re going to be switching to a CO2 system that’s much more environmentally friendly.”

The project is a big undertaking. Construction crews have to rip out the original piping and concrete floor from 1984, as well as an additional refrigeration system installed about 10 years ago after the first one failed.

“Most of that is going to be underneath the floor surface so, the public will only see the benefit in our ice system, not necessarily improvements in the building,” Leslie said.

Miller can’t wait to test out the new surface.

“I hope I’m the first one to skate on it,” she said.

The last day for ice skating activities—hockey, lessons, public skate—is Saturday, March 25. The arena will be closed for renovations through the summer.

Leslie said he hopes to have construction complete by Labor Day.

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