PHOTO: hockey rink under construction

In-line hockey rink under construction at Dixon Park in Fredericksburg.

NOTHING captures the optimistic outlook that business and political leaders have for the future of Fredericksburg more than their charitable donations to improve the city. It’s one thing to verbally express such optimism; quite another to back up those warm sentiments with cold, hard cash.

But that’s exactly what a small group of “Fredanthropists” have done. And the result will be a new roller-hockey rink at Dixon Park that city residents will enjoy for years to come.

The Fredanthropist program, a partnership between the city and the local business community, was launched earlier this month by the Department of Economic Development and Tourism as a way to help fund cultural events and community facilities that are not covered in the city’s annual budget.

In less than a month, nine individuals and businesses have already signed up as Fredanthropists: Hilldrup, Coldwell Banker Elite, ILM Corp., Mary Washington Healthcare, LifeCare, Lidl, Mary Jane O’Neill, Mayor Mary Katherine Greenlaw, and the Rappahannock Development Group. There’s room for three more.

The goal of the program is to raise money for the “wants”—such as the new hockey rink and improving existing park facilities—that add to the quality of life in Fredericksburg, but aren’t fully funded because the City Council has to focus on its capital-intensive “needs”—such as updating the water system and building a new school.

Fredanthropists will help to fill in the gap. Any money raised by the program will be used solely for projects in the nice-to-have-but-can’t-really-afford-it category.

“We believe this new philanthropic partnership has the potential to significantly grow in the coming years to fund a variety of wonderful amenities and events that will make our city an even more attractive place to live, work and play,” said Bill Freehling, the city’s director of economic development and tourism.

Construction has already begun on the new outdoor in-line hockey rink, which is being built in partnership with the Washington Capitals, and is scheduled to open in July. The city is responsible for $219,000 of the total $414,000 cost for site preparation, which includes $40,000 from the Fredanthropists. The Caps will pay $195,000 for the playing surface, goals, dasher boards, scoreboard, benches and fencing as part of its hockey Legacy Project.

The hockey rink will be located next to the Doris E. Buffett Pool, which city residents can use free of charge—thanks to a generous gift from the pool’s namesake, who was a longtime city resident. These outdoor venues, in addition to the new baseball stadium, will make Fredericksburg even more of a recreational destination than it is now, attracting visitors as well as coaxing city residents of all ages to come outside and play. And what could be better than that?

The Caps and the 2019 Fredanthropists are to be commended for their generous donations to the new hockey rink, which will provide local youngsters and adults with years of fun and exercise. But more importantly, it will form yet another link in the complex chain of business and personal relationships that make a community strong and people happy to be a part of it.

There’s still room for prospective Fredanthropists to join this distinguished group of civic patrons who are making sure, by their philanthropic donations as well as their words, that the city stays that way.

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