After 11 years of fundraising, the Greater Santa Barbara Ice Skating Association announced Wednesday that it is planning to break ground on a Goleta ice rink facility later this month.

The project has been on the books since 1997, when the county approved rink plans as part of the Camino Real Marketplace project, and the Wynmark Company donated the land.

The nonprofit group formed in 2003, and seemed to be perpetually $1 million away from starting construction, with fluctuating cost estimates and delayed timelines.

However, the organization finally got the funding it needs to get started.

“We have all our permits through the City of Goleta, and we’re looking at a projected completion in September of 2015,” campaign director Jennifer Ono said.

Construction is estimated to take about nine months and should start around the time of the Nov. 20 groundbreaking, she said.

The 46,500-square-foot building is designed to include a NHL-sized rink (200 feet by 85 feet) and a smaller studio rink.

It will have an after-school homework center, skating lessons, public skating and programs for figure skaters, hockey players, ice sports and adaptive ice sports for mobility-impaired athletes.

The rink will be located at Santa Felicia Drive and Storke Road in Goleta, next to Girsh Park.

The nonprofit has been focused on a “silent phase” of fundraising by working with major donors until now, but plans to launch its community campaign and buy-a-brick campaign with the groundbreaking, Ono said.

The association has raised about $7 million in pledges and donations, and secured a construction loan, which allows construction to begin.

The construction cost is estimated around $11 million, not including the $3.3 million value of the donated land, Ono said.

“I can’t wait to see all ages and families gliding across the ice,” board president Kathy Mintzer said in a statement.

Once it opens, the ice rink is supposed to be self-sustaining, with revenues covering its operating costs.

The nonprofit plans to raise another $1 million in donations over the next two years, Ono added.

As of March 2013, the organization had $4.5 million in cash donations and pledges.

“Our state-of-the-art rink will make the great recreation of ice skating, and the sports that accompany it, available to all residents of the Santa Barbara community,” campaign chair Jack Norqual said in a statement. “Although our fundraising has taken longer than anticipated, we have never compromised on the quality of our ice rink. Thanks to the patience of our donors and supporters, Ice in Paradise will now be an important part of our community for generations to come.”

According to the group’s 990 financial documents, it brought on paid campaign staff several years ago to help with the fundraising effort.

In some years, their financial records show that expenses — including consultants and office costs — outpaced the revenues and fundraising totals.

The organization self-ordered a financial audit last year to reassure potential donors, according to former campaign director Ada Conner.  

It’s not just private citizens and foundations that have chipped in for the rink — the City of Goleta has waived development fees and contributed $250,000 in equipment once it’s built, which is more than a $500,000 commitment.

At that City Council meeting, skaters in UCSB’s Ice Skating Club and members of the Oxnard-based Riptide Hockey club asked the council to support the project.

They said those skaters and many more like them make the 40-mile drive to Oxnard’s rink since there isn’t one in the Santa Barbara or Goleta area. 

Noozhawk news editor Giana Magnoli can be reached at Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

Interior view of the planned Goleta ice rink. (Greater Santa Barbara Ice Skating Association photo)