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Cheektowaga's ice skating rink is beginning to show its age, as breakdowns in the refrigeration system beneath the arena surface have caused enough problems to stir talk about building a new rink.

The skating rink in the Town Park Recreation Center on Harlem Road is more than 20 years old and due for needed, but costly, repairs next year.

But before the town sinks more than $750,000 into a new refrigeration system at the facility, officials want to consider the cost of constructing a new rink.

Constructing a new rink may be a more sensible approach, said Supervisor Dennis H. Gabryszak.

"Basically we're facing a major, major expense (for repairing the ice rink)," Gabryszak said. "We're talking between $600,000 to $800,000.

"We might be better off looking at building a new facility and using the facility that we have there for indoor soccer . . . year round," Gabryszak said Tuesday.

Gabryszak took the concept a step further by suggesting a recreation facility with an ice rink, indoor swimming pool and fitness center for year-round use by town residents of all ages.

If the town did consider building such a facility, officials would study ways to generate additional revenue from it or try to develop a public-private partnership to defray project costs, Gabryszak said.

Although this idea is just being kicked around right now, officials need to get the ball rolling soon.

If repairs are done to the ice rink, the work would need to start in April to be finished for the 1997-98 skating season. Therefore, officials need to start discussing whether they want to repair the ice rink, build another one or go a different route.

Furthermore, officials would have to hire a consultant to study the feasibility and cost of building a new recreation facility.

Cheektowaga officials have to start addressing the fact that the town's ice rink, three outdoor pools and other recreational facilities are getting old and need work, said Kenneth J. Kopacz, Cheektowaga's director of youth and recreational services.

"This is a decision I think the Town Board has to take a look at," Kopacz said of the ice rink. "We have to make a decision on what we're doing and unfortunately it's a decision that has to be very quick."

Cheektowaga's rink, which is used in the summer months for activities like indoor soccer, is heavily used by town residents, officials said.

The rink is open every day from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. during skating season and used for open skate sessions, Cheektowaga Youth Hockey League games and high school hockey team practices, among other programs, said Paul J. Marchewka, Cheektowaga's recreation-arena supervisor.

"We're booked solid Monday through Friday from 5 p.m. to 10:30 p.m," Marchewka said. "On Saturdays and Sundays from 7:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m., we're booked solid."

The town this year put more than $20,000 into repairing the refrigeration system in preparation for the Sept. 30 opening of the ice surface.

That, however, was only patchwork to help get through this skating season and prevent problems of the ice melting in some spots on the rink's surface.

The problems still persist, however. Two hockey games and open sessions have had to be canceled since the rink opened. Workers again were called to the rink Tuesday to fix a problem, officials said.

There weren't any real problems until last year, Marchewka said. The rink just continues to age

"We get a lot of people calling," Marchewka said Tuesday. "'How's the ice today? Can we plan on a game?"

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