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Opening of outdoor ice rink is delayed

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MARCIA A. NELESEN
December 18, 2010
— The city’s outdoor ice rink at Traxler Park could be open Monday as city workers continue to work out kinks in the new system.

The city dug a depression and installed pipes in the rink so it now fills with water via a series of manholes. Ice forms naturally on top of the water, which creates a more stable sheet of ice.


That should give skaters a longer season because the ice will better weather warm spells. It also means workers won’t have to manually create a sheet of ice by spraying water with hoses for several weeks.


The city had hoped to have the rink open by now. But the ice sheet collapsed when too much water leaked out of the basin.


“It was a just a learning curve with the new system, knowing what needs (water) to be put in and how much is going to be leaking out,” said Cullen Slapek, assistant parks director.


“We did reach a point where we were very comfortable with the water level in the rink,” Matt McGrath, city engineer, said. “Our mistake was to not monitor it.”


Workers are now more closely monitoring the rink and adding water when it dissipates.


Slapek hopes the rink will be open Monday, depending on this weekend’s weather.


Workers also will spray water on top of the sheet to smooth out bumps, something that will need to be done regularly even under ideal circumstances.


The ice sheet’s collapse added to the uneven surface, as did a layer of snow that froze into the ice, McGrath said.


Slapek said he is certain that kids will be able to use the rink during Christmas vacation.



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