Martha’s Vineyard Arena cuts rink manager to cut deficit

Martha’s Vineyard Arena cuts rink manager to cut deficit

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Longtime arena director Kurt Mundt, seen here in this 2010 photo, was laid off in a cost-cutting move. — File photo by Ralph Stewart

Facing rising operating costs and declining use, the Martha’s Vineyard Arena has laid off longtime arena director Kurt Mundt, leaving the rink with only one full-time employee. The 15-member volunteer board has assumed responsibility for day to day operations, including accounting, booking ice time, cleaning, and maintenance.

Jim Kelleher, president of the board of directors, confirmed the details of the change when contacted by The Times Wednesday. The arena board made no formal announcement of the layoffs.

“We are financially very strapped,” Mr. Kelleher said in a phone interview with The Times. “The cost to operate the place has gone up, with utilities, and we are badly in need of a new roof. We had to cut back.”

The Martha's Vineyard Arena is now 40 years old.
The Martha’s Vineyard Arena is now 40 years old.

Scott Lively, vice-president of the board, said the arena ran a deficit of approximately $50,000 in its previous fiscal year, on a projected budget of approximately $450,000. He said the organization expects to run a deficit again this year, but the board won’t know the extent of the loss until it closes the arena books at the end of June.

Mr. Kelleher and Mr. Lively declined to detail how much the organization spends on employee salaries and benefits.

The directors said increases in the cost of electricity, used to cool the rink and maintain the ice surface, as well as increases in the cost of propane, used to dehumidify the building, have put a strain on the operating budget.

“We burn close to $100,000 in electricity per year,” Mr. Lively said.

The largest source of revenue for the arena are charitable donations, anchored by its annual August fundraiser, Ice Savours. That event raised $151,000 last summer, according to Mr. Lively. The arena also gets income from fees for ice time and from sponsors who buy advertising signs inside the building.

The board officers said the 40-year-old building is in dire need of a new, insulated roof, estimated to cost $400,000. He said the organization has raised about two-thirds of the money necessary. The directors say they hope to add a snack bar, which could generate revenue from the sale of food and rental fees, as a place for birthday parties and social gatherings, according to the organization’s most recent newsletter. Most of the fundraising efforts, which normally pay for a large part of the operating costs, will be dedicated to the roof and other building maintenance.

“We can’t wait any more,” Mr. Kelleher said. “Once we get the roof done, and that capital expenditure is behind us, that money will go to personnel.”

The directors said the rink has kept the cost of ice time low, among the lowest rates in the region. While grants have helped youth hockey leagues grow in the past year, figure skating and other programs are not as popular as they were in the past. Tight school athletic budgets for off-Island high school teams that once regularly traveled to the Island, have also affected revenue.

“Where it used to be a busy rink, with the recession, towns don’t particularly want to come here on the weekend,” Mr. Lively said.

Mr. Kelleher said the cost-cutting moves have not affected any programs at the arena.

The 26th annual ice show, presented by the Martha’s Vineyard Figure Skating Club, is scheduled for Sunday, April 6. After that, the arena will close for the season,and reopen in mid-July.

The directors said the financial strain has been tough on the arena staff and volunteers.

“Nobody wants to see somebody out of work,” Mr. Kelleher said. “It’s tough. We’ve got to turn this ship around. Everybody is rolling up their sleeves. We’re doing everything we can to get this place solvent. I think in another year, we’ll be in good shape.”

Mr. Mundt did not respond to a phone message asking for comment.

Comments

  1. I’m sure the general public will miss the one constant staple the rink has had for the past 20+Yrs. Shame on the board for doing this to Kurt. They lost a great manager.

  2. The board running the rink changes all the time but the one constant has been Kurt and this current board is misguided. You do not fire a 20 plus year employee with no notice. I have supported the rink for many years and the way this was done leaves a bad smell around the rink. Is this the same Scott Lively that was running the Eleven North restaurant in Edgartown that closed up?

    1. No Bobcege, I never “ran” 11 north. I was an investor that lost money do to bad management along with others

  3. The MV Arena is a huge asset on our island…it seems the board has to remind people of that and raise some awareness and funds! Mr. Mundt is the operations guy, not the fund raiser. I can’t imagine how less operation can translate to more funds. A lot of future figure skaters and hockey players are depending on the rink! Let’s make it work where there’s Mr. Mundt, a new roof, and some money in the till…we can win this one! Consider donating at: mvarena.com

  4. Wow. What a shock and sad desicion. Kurt is an irreplaceable part of the rink and has been for years. His family has given so much to the program for the past 20 years and it is a shame to see him repaid this way.

  5. has the arena considered PV panels on its new roof to help offset the large electricity bills? With a PV installation there are often grants and/or tax credits that could be taken advantage of as well.

  6. This news saddens me for the future generations of youth skaters who might lose out on an opportunity to just have fun. So many people over the rink’s history have spent and donated countless hours to keeping the place running and open to all.
    It’s not easy to fundraise and keep this place open. It takes dedication and hard work and everyone involved needs to be involved. Being on a board of directors means not paying professionals but getting in there and raising that money yourself.
    We have lots of people in the past that did just that; worked hard and made huge improvements to the building. Losing Kurt is just wrong. He is the face of the rink.
    I hope everyone who reads this article will donate whatever they can to keep it open forever. I hope the current board of directors will see that the future of this building is now on their shoulders and not let it fold.

  7. 400,000 for a new roof? ludicrous…..maybe we should have the amish builders stick around and get a proper price —–

  8. As sad as the situation is and I hope the worst doesn’t happen with a permanent shut down, we must consider the future. Opening another Pandora’s box, here is the new Stop & Shop location already available & move in ready so to speak. It’s even on the bus route for non drivers. It makes much more sense than what is currently going on trying to cram a square peg in a round hole at 5 corners.

    1. JANMRD perhaps you could clarify that… I don’t think anybody understands your point.

      1. Being in such financial straits, there could be the evitable possibility of the Arena going belly up so to speak in the future. Just throwing out there another use for the building only if it should ever come to pass.

        1. It should never come to pass, nobody needs another use for the rink. What the community needs to do is rally around the cause, have some of these big thinkers work on additional, new and creative fundraising methods and right the ship.

  9. After rereading this article I didn’t see any mention of all the good Kurt has done for the rink. No mention of his name by the board members quoted in the article…Neither board member thanked him for his many years of dedication and service…Which is sad.

    1. This board has shown it lost it’s way in life. I would like to see the other names of the current board members who seem to care little about people. The rink is a people place not a number cruncher place which is the way this board is looking at it. I have not been to the rink in years but still donate to it every year because of Kurt and the good memories he provided my family. This current board is on thin ice and needs to fix there mistake.

  10. When someone works at a company or in this case a ice rink for 20+ years that person is no longer just a employee. That person becomes a key peace of the company they work at because at the end of the day what is making that company “ice rink” succeed is that one person. That one person who has given 20+ years of their life cares about the place.I think letting Kurt go from the rink will start to show its effects on the rink. After all he is most likely the only person on this island who knows how to run a rink from the inside out.

  11. Being a non profit there must be a financial statement somewhere. I think they cut the wrong item. Must be somewhere else something can be cut. What happened to the cell phone tower?

  12. The Arena is such an important part of the community. I hope they can find a way to keep it running. The volunteer board is taking on a lot of work to keep it open. I’m thankful for their efforts.

  13. If a community can raise a barn, why not a roof. I’ve never seen the Ag Hall leak.
    With all the guys that have watched their kids skate, and grow at the Arena, I believe the volunteer list would be lengthy, And there would be enough money left to give Kurt a job, and a raise.