June 21, 2018
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Calais outdoor skating rink under construction

Courtesy of Chris Woodside
Courtesy of Chris Woodside
Toby Cole, director of the Calais Recreation Department, staples a liner to a wooden frame as he helps build an ice rink at the city’s athletic complex on Calais Avenue.
By Tom Walsh, BDN Staff

CALAIS, Maine — Construction of a new public outdoor skating rink is ongoing, getting under way on Wednesday despite a snow squall.

The city’s Recreation Department, local schools and Washington County Community College are joining forces to make the 50-by-75-foot rink a reality at the city’s athletic complex on Calais Avenue, across from the armory.

“They had outdoor skating here years ago, but it’s been a long time,” said City Manager Diane Barnes. “It’ll be something fun, and the council is excited about it.”

Toby Cole, the city’s new recreation director, has been coordinating the project with Chris Woodside, the college’s new outdoor adventure coordinator. Both were out in the snow on Wednesday, assembling the forms that frame the plastic liner beneath the surface of the ice.

“The college already had the forms and the system we needed, but they hadn’t been used in years,” Cole said. “We decided to haul them out, and we have had more than enough parents of the kids who will be skating here volunteer to shovel snow off the surface and otherwise help out. There’s really no cost involved, as the college had the forms. The Fire Department, the Water Department and public works will be involved in using the hydrant near the rink to flood it when conditions are right and to maintain a smooth topcoat through the winter.”

For now, the rink won’t be lit at night for evening skating, Cole said, although that may happen down the road. While there’s no warming house, at least not yet, the rink is near a snack shack used during Little League season.

“That could provide us with access to some heated indoor space,” Cole said. “Chris and I are already talking about some special events with snacks and hot chocolate that will bring the college, the community and the city together.”

When the rink is ready for skaters is up to Mother Nature.

“We’ll be waiting for the weather to cooperate,” Cole said. “You need at least three or four days when the weather is in the 20s or lower before you can flood it.

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