Outdoor ice rink will have a roof this winter

The Ashland Rotary Centennial Ice Rink will have a roof when it opens in November.

The Ashland Parks and Recreation Commission gave the nod Friday morning to plans to buy a roof that can be set up each skating season and taken down in the spring.

The roof will cost approximately $268,000, although the parks department is still in negotiations over the final cost, said Parks Director Don Robertson.

The parks department received three bids for an ice-rink cover this week. The low bid was for $268,000 while the high bid was for $307,000, Robertson said.

Some ice-rink enthusiasts had advocated for the construction of a permanent, year-round roof that would have cost an estimated $500,000.

The ice rink has been without a cover since heavy snow and a tree crushed its seasonal canopy in 2007.

A new roof will protect skaters from rain and safeguard the ice from rain and sun.

"We're really excited," Robertson said. "We think it will make it more usable, and we'll be able to do a better job maintaining the quality of the ice. It will be nice to get the kids out of the rain."

The ice rink, set up each year on Winburn Way in a parking lot across from Lithia Park, draws visitors from across Southern Oregon and Northern California.

During winters when the ice rink had no cover, rink workers regularly fielded calls from skaters about ice conditions.

Some skaters said they enjoyed skating in the open where they could see surrounding trees and the sky, but others said they would like more consistent ice conditions and protection from rain.

Staff reporter Vickie Aldous can be reached at 541-479-8199 or vlaldous@yahoo.com.

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