Rotary Club eyes $50,000 for ice rink

The Darex Family Ice Rink may soon become the Ashland Rotary Centennial Ice Rink with a $50,000 gift from the Rotary Club of Ashland. The Ashland Parks Foundation will continue fundraising, hoping to match or exceed that gift.

The decision hinges on a membership vote of the Rotary Club, which met at noon today, said Michael Donovan, president of the club. The Parks and Recreation Commission must approve the gift and name change at its meeting Monday night.

"We wanted to make a significant contribution to the community," Donovan said.

The decision to support the ice rink for the Rotary's centennial project came after a former project to extend the Bear Creek Greenway to North Mountain Park failed a few years ago, he said.

If approved, the new name will represent both the centennial celebration of the Rotary Club of Ashland, celebrated in this year, and the 100th birthday of Lithia Park this year.

Parks commission chair Mike Gardiner said the gift came at an opportune time.

"We had a certain amount of money available for the project, but we really needed to get over the hump," he said. "This is really an excellent opportunity for us to resurrect the current facility and to make it what most of us agree we want for our town: a cozy, little rink."

The rink is currently named after Dave Bernard and his family, who founded Darex with his father Richard in 1973. The family moved to Ashland in 1979 from the Midwest, where they often enjoyed skating, and they made a $55,000 gift in the 1996 campaign to build the ice rink, believing it would be a great addition to the community, he said.

Bernard, a member of the Rotary Club of Ashland, supports the gift and name change.

"I'm excited for the rink, that it's getting a needed upgrade and that the Rotary is willing to give it that push," he said.

Opening day for the rink, however, has been pushed back to January due to delays in manufacturing of the parts, Parks and Recreation Director Don Robertson said. The parks department cannot pour the cement until after Thanksgiving, when they receive the pipe that transports the coolant. Once the cement is poured, it must sit for 30 days before any ice can be formed on top of it, he said.

"One way or another we will have ice," he said.

The project will cost about $175,000 in all, Robertson said. It will include cooling coils embedded in the concrete, allowing ice to form directly on the concrete rather than on top of aging mats. The new process will save approximately $10,000 per year in setup costs, he said.

The parks department would also like to add restrooms, a warming hut and a permanent skate rental facility at a later date, Robertson said.

A gift catalogue for the Ashland Parks Foundation, prominently featuring the ice rink fundraiser, will be available Dec. 13 at the Lithia Park centennial celebration, he said.

Staff writer Julie French can be reached at 482-3456 ext. 227 or

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