Snowmass ice rink close to opening for season | AspenTimes.com

Snowmass ice rink close to opening for season

Jill Beathard
Snowmass Sun

The recent drop in temperatures is allowing the Snowmass Village recreation department to make headway on opening the ice rink at Town Park.

Boards have been installed, and employees began flooding the rink in the Snowmass Rodeo grounds on the night of Dec. 16, said Kelly Vaughn, town director of communications. Sustained low temperatures are required for the surface to build up, so the town expects the ice to be safe enough to open next week.

The ice rink is a unique amenity that started through a volunteer effort about five years ago. Today, some of those volunteers are still involved and have donated the use of their equipment, but the town maintains and manages the amenity, which is open to the public.

As the ice rink grows in popularity and the town continues to support it, there have been multiple discussions about what the long-term vision for the rink is. Resident Chuck Bond has offered to loan the town more than $250,000 for a refrigeration system for the rink, which was forced to close in mid-February 2014 during a warm spell.

Many people in the community strongly supported the town accepting Bond’s loan. Resident Tom Yocum, part of the volunteer team that started the rink, has two children who play hockey. He’d like to see improvements to the ice rink while his kids can still use it.

“(If you wait), you’re going to be on the next generation,” he said.

However, the town is in the midst of a larger planning process for that land parcel, known as the entryway, which includes the rodeo grounds, recreation center, athletic fields and a wetlands habitat. The town would have to pay Bond back in three years, and elected officials made it clear during budget discussions this fall that they weren’t ready to commit a more significant amount of taxpayer money to the rink without a long-term plan. The town budgeted $40,000 for labor and maintenance of the ice rink for 2015 and has historically budgeted similar amounts to help keep it going year after year.

“Are we looking two to three to four years for a plan for whatever comes out?” said Mayor Markey Butler, who was a councilwoman then.

“I would love to have a state-of-the-art facility,” Andy Worline, director of parks, recreation and trails, told the Town Council in October. “I just don’t want to go at it half-ass. … I know that we can do it well.”

The ice rink is just one of many ideas for uses of the land. Many in the community passionately support keeping the Snowmass Rodeo alive, while others think that the town parcel could be put to a better use. Many rodeo supporters are also users of the ice rink and would like to see the dual-use facility continue.

“I’m a huge supporter of keeping the rink,” said resident Karina Redko, whose kids use the ice and who takes friends and family there when they come to visit. “I would like to see the town support it because it’s another amenity for our guests.”

The town has already commissioned a preliminary design for a rodeo/ice facility that would be about the same size as the current arena but that could be reoriented or relocated. At past public meetings about the entryway, residents have also suggested adding a roof that would help maintain the facility’s temperature.

“I think that would make it easier to control the ice quality and make it more comfortable,” Redko said. “I wouldn’t want it to interfere with the rodeo.”

One more public meeting is planned to discuss the entryway. Community Development Director Julie Ann Woods hopes to present a conceptual plan to the Town Council in early 2015.

jill@snowmasssun.com


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