BELFAST, Maine — It may be getting colder outside, but city officials hope they will warm the hearts of ice skaters and hockey players with news about a new free outdoor rink that soon will be set up next to Waterfall Arts on High Street.
“I think people are very excited about it in town,” Carol Good, president of Friends of Belfast Parks, said Thursday morning. “The response has been almost entirely positive. People have come out to help volunteer to install the rink and keep it maintained. People are just really excited about skating.”
Her civic group is donating $5,000 to purchase the portable rink, which will measure 104 feet by 72 feet. After months of brainstorming where to place the rink, city officials and leaders decided that the highly visible High Street location, which is near downtown and Belfast Area High School, would be perfect.
Jim Bell, city director of parks and recreation, said the rink is expected to be delivered sometime early next week. It will feature a vinyl liner and sideboards and the city already has installed water to the area so that it can be flooded. Lights are being installed now for night skating but there isn’t yet an opening date for the rink.
That date also depends on the weather, Bell said.
Until now, would-be ice skaters in Belfast have been satisfied with Kirby Lake, which is better known as “the Muck.” The city has tried to maintain the small pond for skating over the years but efforts haven’t been very successful, Bell said.
“One year, we had a truck go through [the ice],” he said.
The next year, a tractor belonging to the city also became a victim of the Muck. Bell said that the new portable rink won’t pose any of those problems.
“We’re looking for the season to be more consistent for the skaters,” he said. “We’re hoping it’ll last into March.”
Volunteers will help maintain the rink and almost a dozen attended an organizational meeting Wednesday. More are needed, Good said.
One of those volunteers is a local figure skater who had ideas about teaching children to skate, Good said.
“People had all kinds of ideas: lessons and cookouts and hot chocolate,” she said. “It makes you want to get your skates out. I think this will really develop, if we’re successful at keeping the ice solid and cleaned off.”