Little interest shown in outdoor rink

Dave Mathieson
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AMHERST - The idea of an outdoor rink for the town is dead in the water.

Seven people, six from the Lions Club, came out to a public meeting and feasibility study put together by Lions Club feasibility chairman Walter Jones.

Jones was disappointed with the turnout.

"If the community wants the rink, they should be willing to volunteer to make it happen," said Jones. "Communities should not be handed something, they should participate and make it theirs

"They should own it, we shouldn't give it to them. This is something they should own and they can only own it if they put some effort into it."

During a slide presentation Jones said that to make the rink a viable project they would need to get a temporary rink running this year, a committee to help run the rink, a building committee to raise the funds for a new rink, select a fundraising chairperson and a site for the new rink.

He then showed a slide with the cost of an NHL-sized outdoor rink built on a four-inch-thick pad of concrete with lighting, site preparation and legal costs.

The total cost for the rink came to $202,623.95.

Danny Small, the lone non-Lion member at the meeting, said Jones might be expecting too much.

"It's great you went out and got the numbers but I think you're way ahead of the game here," said Small. "There has to be a needs assessment first and we need a test site to see how it's going to be used before we start talking about the future. This town might not need an NHL-sized $200,000 ice surface.

"The tennis court is an ideal site. It has the fencing and it has the lighting, it's large enough for people to get out there and you can see if people are going to use it for hockey or skating."

Jones said the Lions Club could build a test site but won't do it alone.

"If we were to put it up and maintain it and have somebody there all the time, then somebody would come and use it," said Jones. "But as far as getting anybody to help build it, I can't see it. You see how many people came here tonight."

Small admitted he was discouraged by the turnout.

"I talked to about 30 people today and they didn't know about it," said Small.

Jones said the outdoor rink story, including the public meeting announcement, was on the front page of the Amherst Daily News, it was on the radio and flyers were put up throughout the town, but still nobody showed.

"If they're not here, then it shows that they're just not interested," said Jones. "The Lions Club can't be expected to do all of this by themselves."

Organizations: Lions Club, NHL, Amherst Daily News

Geographic location: AMHERST

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Recent comments

  • Parent who would help
    February 24, 2010 - 23:46

    Does anyone realize that so many parents are home this week taking care of sick children. This flu has taken a hold of the children in this area. I, for one would have been at this meeting with bells on to support, funrdraise, ect to have this rink built.....and I know many more parents that would have gone too had it not been that their children are sick and needed to be home with them. Please think about the kids in this town and don't Kill this project. Build it and they will come ....then we can fundraise for a bigger and better outdoor rink for the years that lay ahead

  • Greg
    February 24, 2010 - 23:46

    I am very supportive of this idea and would have surely attended the meeting if I had known about it. I also think the comments posted here as well as on the previous story show that there is quite an interest in this project. We all need to consider the current situation will H1N1, whether it be infection or fear of infection, when calling for public gatherings. I would suggest you distibute a memo through the local schools and possibly with the weekly flyers to point folks to a website with a survey and/or a blog of some sort to collect peoples opinions (all of which can be done extremely cheap or for free)

    This is definitely a worthwhile project, and as such I suggest you contact the Amherst Skating Club ( to see if there is any thing they can do to help.

  • N.
    February 24, 2010 - 23:46

    Please don't give up on this idea! I agree that it must've been disheartening to not have a greater turn out, however considering the amount of residents that are either ill themselves, or are caring for a family member, the timing may not have been ideal. I would like to see this meeting rescheduled.

  • Andrew
    February 24, 2010 - 23:46

    Hi All,

    I like the idea of an outdoor rink. But, I agree with Mr. Small that an NHL-sized rink might be too much for town. His suggestion of flooding the Church Street or Mission St. area tennis courts sounds like a very cost-effective first try. The facilities are already secured by lockable doors (to avoid access during off-hours), and they are currently supervised and serviced by the town.

    Maybe this could become some sort of joint Parks&Rec/service club co-venture???

    Baby steps towards a larger goal seem (to me) to be a more prudent way of approaching this topic.

    Also, to Mr. Jones from the Lion's Club...thank you for taking the time to spearhead this campaign. I am sorry that I couldn't attend the presentation (due to a previous commitment). I want you to know that your work has not been in vain. Keep at it, I would be happy to assist you in the future.

  • Jack on the rocks
    February 24, 2010 - 23:45

    To all the Build It and They Will Come people.Can you read??It says The Lions Club can't be expected to do it themselves.They are looking for volunteers.It's funny how people come out of the woodwork when plans get cancelled.Great try by the Lions Club,as always.

  • HB
    February 24, 2010 - 23:45

    It sounds like a good idea, but really the town itself probably needs to get involved in order to make it happen. I'm not sure of all the details, but I'm assuming that it's not as simple as flooding the tennis courts. There would be liability issues for one thing, and the town has a blanket insurance policy that could possibly cover that. Possibly one of the Councillors could champion this. I also agree we probably don't need a $200k NHL surface as well though, but there may be other requirements like walls, etc.

    However, please don't waste a whole bunch of time on surveys, opinions, expensive studies, etc. A one day discovery of the requirements, figure out what it will cost approximately, see what resources are already available that can be tapped for free or low cost (town equipment to flood the ice, etc), figure out a simple maintenance schedule, and just do it if it's within reason. The first season should tell whether or not it's worth it, and that will be the only real proof. Getting opinions around here is an exercise in futility.

  • Peter
    February 24, 2010 - 23:45

    I too am very supportive of this initiative.
    I also agree with many of the comments above, just poor timing for a meeting.
    Also, I don't think it was very well advertised.
    Comments in this fourm & the online survey all seemed positive, pretty sure the turnout at the meeting is not indicative of the support.
    Don't let the idea die yet.
    Build it & they will come...

  • Greg
    February 24, 2010 - 23:45

    Jack, I think the point that has been made by more than a few here is that there very well could have been volunteers to help, had we known about a meeting. They are calling the meeting dead in the water before they have been able to determine if it is feasible. You cannot determine if the project is feasible without talking to the people who might use it. There are better ways to get the information you need than announcing a meeting in the ADN and on CKDH. I don't listen to CKDH and only read ADN online, so I was not aware. I would volunteer with both the feasibility study and with making the project a reality ... and I hope I am still able to do so.

  • EB
    February 24, 2010 - 23:45

    I agree with the others above, I too would have liked to have attended, but had sick family members that I was home taking care of...I think it is an awesome idea for this town and would definitely support and volunteer time for fundraising!!!

  • RH
    February 24, 2010 - 23:45

    What a shame, I was looking forward to seeing this happen, thought it was a great idea.

    It's to bad the community of River Hebert couldn't get together and do something like this, since we have NOTHING for our children.

  • Lisa
    February 24, 2010 - 23:45

    I am very supportive of this idea but alas was unable to attend the meeting last night. I hope the Lion's Club has not given up on this. Perhaps a public meeting is not the best way to go at this time with so much sickness around us.

    Perhaps a phone survey or a mail out may be better to get some encouraging numbers of support and then hold a public meeting.

    As far as beginning with something small - Build it and they will come. Find a spot to flood with water and wait and see what happens - If anything.

    Thank you Lion's Club for at least trying to move forward with this great idea.

  • Danny
    February 24, 2010 - 23:45

    When was the meeting? I must have missed the announcement. My family would have been there and I know a lot of other who would have too. What a shame. I get the feeling the town didn't want it anyway. The Y was in the news for weeks, had a series of meetings, but the outdoor rink gets one meeting and is scraped. I wonder if it is because the Lions wanted to put it in the West Highlands area and not where George Baker had proposed it on the old Dicky Park property.

  • Robert
    February 24, 2010 - 23:45

    I know many people who are actively avoiding crowded areas right now as a precaution due to the flu. I'm sure some may have thought it may have been a good idea to avoid the meeting.

    Just a thought...