Norwich - The manager of the Norwich Ice Rink Authority has resigned from his position, authority members said during a meeting Thursday in which they were to have reviewed a series of proposals by the manager to make the struggling rink more profitable.
Jim Sanca was to have proposed the changes, but it was instead his wife and long-time rink employee Mia Sanca who addressed authority members. Jim Sanca was not at the meeting.
"I think we've all enjoyed working with the Sancas," authority Chairman Mike Goldblatt said. "We certainly wish Jim the best."
No reason was given for why Jim Sanca resigned, or when. Mia Sanca said only that after 13 years of service to the Norwich Ice Rink, he felt it was time for a change.
"He always puts this rink first," she said. "That's what he is still doing."
The city has demanded that the rink overhaul its operations. The rink owes the city more than $260,000 in past cash advances, and this year's city budget includes a $54,000 direct operational subsidy.
Last week, the authority eliminated the finance manager position in a cost-cutting move but decided to remain open for the summer.
Thursday, authority members discussed ways to possibly make the rink more energy-efficient, better market the rink - the only rink in eastern Connecticut open during the summer - to nearby schools and hotels, and restructure the staff.
About a dozen people showed up at Thursday's meeting to ask that the authority not close the rink.
President Pro Tempore Francois "Pete" Desaulniers assured the public that the City Council had no intention of closing the rink.
"Having said that, it came to the attention of the City Council last year that we had to take action," he said.
Deborah Schwell, who has been skating at the rink since it opened, said the rink was a hub for talented figure-skating and hockey coaches and staff.
"If this rink closes, we have to build up all of that talent again somewhere else, this time from scratch," she said. "That would be more costly than anything."
Ledyard resident Karl Jensen said he was shocked by the news of Sanca's resignation.
"I've found Jim's leadership to be a very hands-on style of leadership. He's gone way above and beyond the designation of manager," Jensen said. "I hope we all realize what an asset we're losing with Jim."