By Ryan Schwab
HUNTERTOWN — A cure for those winter blues may well have been constructed at Huntertown Family Park.
Assembly of a 40 x 92 feet ice skating rink — about half the size of an Olympic size rink — was completed on Jan. 3 on the west side of the park located at the corner of Woods Road and Old Lima Road in downtown Huntertown.
Dan Holmes, president of Friends of Huntertown Parks Inc., said he and two others began the two-day construction on Jan. 2. The rink was filled on the second day, although Holmes was uncertain as to how deep the ice is. Holmes installed steps to help skaters climb into the rink which sets about 20 inches off the ground on Thursday.
“To me, (the rink) looks plenty big,” Holmes said with a laugh. “I put it on the website that we are building one and the website just lit up. I don’t know how many people still have skates, but there were a bunch of people on our website (and Facebook page) that said they couldn’t wait. We will find out how popular it will be here shortly, but the feedback we are getting from people is that they are ready to go.”
The rink was ordered through NiceRink.com, which offers a wide variety of rink sizes and options for homes and parks.
Holmes said that since there is no lighting at the rink at this point in time, rink hours will be during the daytime. The park board has yet to come up with rules and regulations for the rink at this time, but they will monitor ice condition based on the weather to determine whether skating is safe or not.
“We’ve been working so hard on getting it up, we haven’t really sat down and analyzed the whole thing. We knew we had to get it up this week or we weren’t going to get it up,” Holmes said.
Holmes added that if the gate to the rink is open, then it’s alright to skate, and likewise if the gate to the rink is closed, skater’s should stay off. He would like to eventually fly a green flag for safe skating and a red flag for unsafe skating. The park committee also plans to add some lighting to the rink in the future.
Construction concludes a winter building schedule that also featured a restroom facility constructed. The building is complete, but fixtures have yet to be installed. Holmes said that will be the top priority this spring.
He noted the electricity has been run to the amphitheater, both pavilions and the new Christmas tree. A storage building which will be used as a Nature Center has also been constructed.
The park board’s “Match the 50K and More” campaign is growing closer to reaching its goal, Holmes said, adding that donations fell off a bit in December, likely due to the holidays. In July 2015, the park received a $25,000 donation from State Farm Insurance. An anonymous donor has agreed to match that $25,000 if the Huntertown community raises $50,000 first. According to the park’s website — huntertownfamilypark.com — $33,275 has already been raised as of Nov. 12. Holmes didn’t want to give out an updated total, but did say the park board is “getting closer.”
Since the board is a not-for-profit organization, it receives no tax dollars or government support. Anyone interested in joining the challenge has multiple options. They can simply make a cash donation, establish an annual or monthly financial commitment, provide in-kind donations, secure a corporate grant and volunteer time or work.
Additionally, commemorative bricks are being sold which will be incorporated into a new pathway. A 4×8 brick can be purchased for $100 and an 8×8 brick can be purchased for $150. The smaller bricks can include up to 60 characters of text and the larger bricks can have up to 120 characters of text.