Future of ice rink is uncertain

The Ashland Parks Commission will hold a public meeting about options for the Darex Family Ice Rink at 7 p.m. on Monday in the Community Center, 59 Winburn Way.

"This meeting will be about the future of the ice rink &

or if the ice rink has a future," said Parks Director Don Robertson.

In February 2007, the ice rink's canopy collapsed under a fallen tree and heavy snow. Parks employees had already been struggling with aging ice-making coils that they have to roll out each winter in a parking lot across from Lithia Park that is the winter home for the seasonal rink.

The rink operated without a canopy this winter. It was closed eight full days and 10 partial days because of bad weather, Robertson said.

Gross revenues were down from about $51,000 last winter to $45,607 this winter, but still within the average of $40,000 to $50,000 for the season, he said.

None of the options under consideration include replacing the canopy. That would have to come at a later time, said Parks Recreation Superintendent Rachel Teige.

The cost for a replacement canopy of the same size and design would be about $70,000, Robertson said.

Options under consideration include spending about $50,000 to replace mats and coils that sit under the ice, while keeping the rink at its same location, he said.

A second option would be to set the ice-making coils permanently in concrete in the parking lot and build a new restroom and skate shack. That would cost about $300,000, but embedding the coils could eventually pay for itself through labor savings, Robertson said.

The Parks Commission previously budgeted $90,000 for the rink. The commission would need to authorize staff to seek a state grant to help pay for the second option, he said.

A third possibility would be to expand the rink at the parking lot, although a regulation rink would not fit.

Costs would depend on how much bigger the rink would be, Robertson said.

Hockey and ice skating enthusiasts have suggested a fourth option &

moving the ice rink's location to Southern Oregon University land near the ScienceWorks Hands-On Museum, across Walker Avenue from Ashland Middle School.

The regulation-size rink could accommodate hockey teams and could be used by the public and area schools, said Mark Moeglein, president of the nonprofit organization Ashland Ice, which promotes skating opportunities in Ashland.

"We know there's demand for ice time," he said.

The current rink is about half the size of a regulation rink, he said.

Moeglein said he has received no commitment from SOU officials that the land could be used for an ice rink.

Costs, including a roof and new Zamboni

ice-resurfacing machine, would be more than $1 million.

He said the money would have to come from a combination of sources, including an intensive fund-raising campaign.

Robertson said money from a state grant could only be used for a project on land that is designated for park use, such as the parking lot that has been the home for the rink.

He said the fifth possibility is that there would be no more ice rink.

Staff writer can be reached at 479-8199 or vlaldous@yahoo.com.

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