That was until three years ago.
Chad Jonsson, Syracuse park superintendent, stated with the creation of the Harold Schrock Athletic Complex, different uses for facilities were sought, particularly in winter for outside physical activities. “We don’t do a lot in the winter,” Jonsson stated about park programs. “We thought we’d try and see if we can make it a go.”
While the rink is normally created on one of the ball diamonds at the athletic complex, weather damage during Christmas caused the rink to be moved to Lakeside Park, under the pavilion.
Normally 50 feet by 80 feet, the current rink is 30 by 40, the size of the pavilion.
Moving it next to a main road has resulted in more awareness and just days before warm weather moved in, the rink was being utilized for a few days. The formation of the rink will remain awaiting the return of winter weather.
Jonsson noted the department has no refrigeration equipment, so the creation of the rink is dependent upon the weather. But unlike the lake when the thickness of the ice is sometimes hard to determine, there is no threat of falling into frigid lake water due to thin ice.
While the numbers of users are not completely known Jonsson does know the rink is being used, due to skate marks and dips found on the ice.
There is also a group who plays hockey when the larger rink is available. Goals are available at the athletic complex for a game to take place. “We’ve thought about a youth hockey day,” Jonsson said, but since the availability of the rink depends on the weather it would be a spur of the moment event.
Jonsson did note there are a few of those who play hockey willing to work with those wanting to learn and arrangements can be made through the park department for contact.
“We’ve heard nothing but good things about it,” Jonsson stated. “There’s been nothing negative.”
While creating the rink – using 2 x 4 plastic boards that snap together and a special lining to fill with water – is not challenging, maintaining the ice after a large snow has been a challenge. “It is hard getting the snow cleaned off. You get good ice, then you get snow on it.”
While they don’t have a Zamboni to clean the ice, they do have a smaller piece of equipment to clean the ice and equipment to remove the snow.The rink is open for anyone to use at anytime there is good ice. For those who do not have skates, a grant from the K21 Health Foundation allowed the purchase of 50 skates in various sizes to be rented. Jonsson noted a $10 per pair deposit is required and then refunded when skates are returned. Skate sizes range from size 5 in children’s to 12 in adults. “We have enough for a family to rent at one time.”
The rentals are available at the community center during regular hours: 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday and 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday.
Jonsson is considering creating two rinks next year, one at Lakeside Park, the other at the athletic complex. This would provide one rink under a shelter, while the other would provide night time lighting.