Trials and Tribulations of a Village Ice Rink

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View of the rink as it was being completed in December 2011.

You may have read the recent news brief on the demise of Pinckney’s ice rink. The project is a classic example of how community effort and good intentions sometimes just aren’t enough. Our Downtown Development Authority funded the ice rink kit; our DPW installed it, along with lights and signage; and all we needed was a little cold weather (see original post below).

Well, we all know what happened to the winter weather, right? But the beginning of the end of this fabulous idea was not weather-related and came very quickly after the rink was established – it was damaged by vandals one weekend night. The business next to the rink has a small parking area marked off with small white posts and a chain, which were tossed into the rink, breaking the layer of surface ice and puncturing the liner. I’m sure that was highly entertaining for the teens that allegedly participated; what would have been a popular winter activity for all ages, ruined for five minutes of juvenile hilarity.

The initial leak was small and slow, so we kept an eye on it and hoped for a cold snap so the rink would freeze solid. This was too much to ask for, apparently, and the water level continued to decline. The real surprise is that people continued to try to skate on it, plunging through the thin ice to the water and the liner below.

It’s a wonder more people don’t drown on all the lakes around here if this is the prevailing level of “ice-readiness” awareness.

The damage quickly escalated to nearly 30 gashes in the liner from skates, and there was no way to keep up with patching and maintaining the water level. The final blow was delivered by Woody on Groundhog Day – spring was just around the corner (Phil’s Pennsylvania Prediction? Phooey!).

Will the ice rink be back next year? That’s a good question. A new liner will cost several hundred dollars, and we will need to consider a few additional expenses we were hoping wouldn’t be required – fencing, possible surveillance equipment and more signage, like “Open” and “Closed” and “Does this look frozen to you?”

My original post about the rink:

Skating Away on the Thin Ice of a New Day

January 3, 2012

Happy 2012! I am dating myself with the title of this post, which comes from a Jethro Tull song (yeah, I was a ProgRock gal, back in the day). And the ice may still be a little thin on the ice rink we just installed on West Main Street, but hopefully not for long!

The story of the ice rink, to me, is a classic small town effort, and the way we should all want our communities to be. It starts last winter, when the Downtown Development Authority put aside funds for an ice skating rink to attract families downtown during the winter. While the project never got off the ground last year, we were determined to make it happen in 2011-2012.

The ideal location would be on Main Street, of course, and I was able to secure permission from the owners of 135 W Main – site of the former bowling alley, next to Lavey Insurance – to construct the rink there. Thank you Screener’s Landscape Supply! After that, things just fell into place. Gary Burg, who takes care of all the downtown planters and flower pots, came into the office and I cornered him about rink maintenance. He admitted to having no experience with it, but with his customary humor and sense of adventure, agreed “Why not?” I had a conversation with Jim Lavey of Lavey Insurance, to see if we could use water from their building (and credit them for the extra use, of course) to maintain the rink. He was delighted to help, and reminisced about skating on the Mill Pond, and noted that Gary did work for them and had access to their building already.

After convincing our DPW that constructing a rink would be fun (they love me, they really do – they haven’t had a fun project like this since I asked them to build a race bed for the St. Patrick’s Day parade back in 2007 or so!), I ordered a 32×52 rink kit from NiceRink.com. It came with instructions – on a DVD. Because doesn’t everyone have a DVD player when they are outside putting a rink together? But after a short break to watch the DVD, the guys made short work of the project and were done by the end of the day.

Meanwhile, I went down to see Jeff Beemer of Ed Bock’s to ask if I could borrow the lights they had for the Fire Department Christmas tree lot. Sat at the counter drinking coffee with Jeff, chatting with customers we both knew – it was the kind of small town thing I value so highly, but we are all usually too busy to do. Jeff, of course, was more than happy to lend the lights, and the guys strung them on poles along the rink.

I just love how it all pulled together –  a few phone calls, a few conversations, and we have a small, family ice rink right downtown. All we need now are a few signs (on the way), and a bench or two…and some cold weather! Enjoy!

About Rebecca Foster 62 Articles

Rebecca Foster writes about food, politics, books and whatever has irritated her on any particular day, on her website Usual and Ordinary (www.usualandordinary.com). She is an occasional contributor to The Livingston Post and has remained active in local politics and the community after serving as Pinckney Village President from 2004-2012. She lives in Pinckney with her husband, two sons, two cats and four chickens – and a good sense of humor.