The next big project at Mill River Park is under way.
The Mill River Collaborative was joined by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and other local and state officials Tuesday morning at the groundbreaking of the Steven and Alexandra Cohen Skating Center and Fountain — a 10,000-square-foot outdoor ice rink in the winter and a 60-nozzle interactive fountain that can be programmed for music and light shows in the summer.
“I remember back in September of 2012 when we were able to publicly announce that this was going to happen, and it was such a monumental event to have take place,” Malloy said before the groundbreaking ceremony. “This is and will be a world-class park in the middle of a city.”
The project is expected be completed by May 2018, the collaborative said in a statement Tuesday.
The rink and fountain are named for the Steven & Alexandra Cohen Foundation, which donated $5 million to the project. The collaborative said the contribution is the largest made to the city by a private donor.
The gift is funding construction of the skating center and fountain, as well as an expanded splash pad at the Mill River Park playground, and a fund to support skate rentals and skating lessons for disadvantaged children.
The Steven & Alexandra Cohen Foundation focuses on education, children’s health, veteran’s issues, the arts and Lyme disease research. The impetus for the gift to the Mill River project was the couple’s interest in fighting childhood obesity.
“We wanted to create a place where kids can enjoy being outdoors, get exercise and have fun — whether in the middle of winter or during summer months,” Alexandra Cohen said in a statement. “We are proud to support Mill River Park and the addition of the Steven & Alexandra Cohen Skating Center and Fountain.”
The groundbreaking for the Steven and Alexandra Cohen Skating Center and Fountain comes just two months after the collaborative celebrated the grand opening of its carousel in the southwestern edge of the park, a project nearly a decade in the making.