WESTFIELD – Amelia Park officially kicked off a three-year capital campaign, aiming to raise $1 million for the Westfield staple.
The “Thanks A Million, Al” drive is named for Albert Ferst, the philanthropist who decided to build a place for children in the community. The facility itself was named for his wife, Amelia. This fundraising campaign is the first of its kind for Amelia Park and will be used to help update the facilities for energy efficiency, Executive Director Carole Appleton said.
“The catch is [the building] was done Mr. Ferst’s way … but this building is not necessarily built for energy efficiency,” Appleton said. “Nobody really thought about that 15 years ago. The Board of Directors realized that we have to do some projects here to make sure that we get things taken care of for the future.”
Though Appleton said the park is “not in any case going to close doors,” she said it was a chance to be “proactive.” There is a study in progress to help find ways to make the building more efficient.
“With a building of 15 years, the science and technology has changed so much that it’s important that we at least take this first initial step,” Appleton said. “I know from a lighting perspective, my personal wish is to make sure it’s lit up like a Christmas tree, all around the building. Would that be part of it? I hope it will be, but the study is going to give us a plan of attack and the projects we need to approach.“
Aside from fixing up the building itself, Appleton said maintaining an ice rink is expensive by nature, and though Amelia Park Arena runs well enough, “when something breaks, it’s catastrophic,” she said.
Appleton said the arena, as well as Amelia’s Garden, the Musical Moments Concert Series and outdoor in-line rink, bring community, sport and culture together.
“You come here, you become part of the family. It is a place where people are welcomed. It just brings all parts of the community together and you get that feeling as soon as you walk in the door,” Appleton said. “Our employees and our staff have a lot to do with that. I have personally always felt that Amelia Park Arena has been an absolute gem for the pioneer valley. A lot of people say it’s just for Westfield. It’s so much more than just Westfield.”
The fundraising campaign kicked off with a wine and beer tasting on June 12. Appleton said she is hoping to have similar fundraising events in the future and is looking for volunteers for her “Amelia Park Army.” Those with fundraising, marketing or event planning experience who are interested in helping should call 568-2503. If you are interested in making a donation, visit the Amelia Park Arena or donate online at www.AmeliaParkIce.org.