The Long Beach Ice Arena, a nearly 40-year-old hub of activity that superstorm Sandy hit hard, officially reopened to the public Saturday.
The 32,500-square-foot arena underwent $300,000 worth of improvements, including a new refrigeration system, new ice and flooring, a new ice resurfacing machine and electrical repairs. The arena suffered substantial damage after 4 feet of water flooded the building, city officials said.
"It's one of the symbols of Long Beach coming back stronger," City Council President Scott Mandel said after the reopening ceremony.
Long Beach owns and operates the bayfront facility, which served as a recovery hub and aid distribution center after Sandy. The arena, which has an NHL-regulation-sized rink, remains a fixture in the community, officials said.
"The skating rink is beautiful," said City Councilwoman Eileen Goggin, adding the rink was accessible in March to only hockey players. "It is a big part of the community. It is great for people who need a break from the beach or the pool. It's a place to come to in the summer."
About 15,000 square feet of heavy-duty rubber flooring was installed around the ice rink to allow people to walk in the arena while wearing skates.
"The best part about coming here is putting your kid on the ice for three hours," said David Heumann, 41, of Island Park, skating with his children, Hunter, 5, and Charley, 3. "After the storm we went to different rinks, but the drive was long."
About 200 volunteers also pitched in Saturday to fix up the Magnolia Playground on Magnolia Boulevard and Broadway. JetBlue and Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit Kaboom! funded the renovation and provided manpower. Dominic A. Murray 21 Memorial Foundation donated an automatic defibrillator for the park.
"It's just another sign of how we are rebounding and how civic-minded the entire city is," Mandel said.