Sledders at Riverside Park can leave their pizza pans and makeshift toboggans at home thanks to a new resource offered by the city of Janesville.
A little free sled shed has been erected at the sledding hill at Riverside Park. The shed gives sledders access to sleds in case they don’t have one or came unprepared for a glide down the hill.
The concept for the shed came from a Facebook page tailored to women who work in parks and recreation, Shelley Slapak, recreation director, said.
It’s a riff off the popular little free libraries, small huts where people leave and take books for free.
The sled shed works the same way—people can drop off sleds they no longer want so others can use them. People can use sleds whenever they wish but are asked to return them to the shed after use so others can enjoy them, Slapak said.
The parks division made the shed with leftover construction materials. Two sleds were placed in the shed initially but since then more have been dropped off. Slapak said she saw about eight sleds in the shed the last time she checked.
This winter was a great year to add the sled because there has been a lot of snow sticking to the ground, and people are desperate to find outdoor, safe activities as the coronavirus pandemic rages on, Slapak said.
Gazette weather data shows snowfall from Dec. 1 to Feb. 3 this winter has totaled 32.8 inches, the 10th-most since 1948, according to Gazette weather data.
The most snowfall from Dec. 1 to Feb. 3 was in 2008 with a total of 54.5 inches, according to the data.
Health officials say outdoor activities are safer than indoors during the pandemic because water vapors exhaled by humans disperse quicker and farther outdoors, making it more difficult for others to breathe in.
The recreation division has focused on outdoor programs this year because of that, Slapak said.
Janesvillians might have a good opportunity to test the sled shed this week because another snowstorm is forecast to hit the area today.
Snow accumulation of 2 to 5 inches is expected in Janesville from Thursday into Friday morning, said Andy Boxell, meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Sullivan.
A light wintry mix will start in the morning as people head to work. The snow will get heavier as the day goes on, especially in the afternoon, Boxell said.
Temperatures will stay relatively high—in the low 30s—throughout the day Thursday and drop at night and continue to be low throughout Friday, Boxell said.
Winds will pick up Friday, causing blowing and drifting snow, which Boxwell cautions could impede driving conditions, Boxell said.
This weekend is forecast to be cold with temperatures dropping to 10 to 15 degrees below 0 at night. Sunday’s high is expected to be around 0, Boxell said.
The parks division hopes to add shed sleds at the city’s other sledding hills at Ardon, Sheiffer and Lustig parks, Slapak said.