AMHERST – It’s ready to go. Almost. The outdoor rink in the Lions Park on Cornwall Avenue has been framed with 2 X 10s and 2 X 12s.
“We did that sometime in December,” said rink organizer and Maggie’s Place employee Sarah MacMaster.
Now it’s time for the next step. Scotia Hyundai is giving MacMaster and other volunteers space in a mechanic’s bay to assemble the tarps that will go in the frame to contain the water.
“Monday night a group of volunteers are getting together,” said the woman.
More volunteers would be welcome. In fact, volunteers played a big role in the success of last year’s rink – the first year at the site – and will be instrumental in making the rink work this season.
“If it was just me on my own, I wouldn’t have done it again,” said the Maggie’s Place employee.
Knowing it’s a cliché, she throws out the ‘it takes a village’ phrase. A phone list of people who would help maintain the rink was developed last year. As for security, “the members of the community pretty much monitor (the site).”
The rink, which is in the fenced-in tennis courts, came out of research MacMaster conducted into what other people and communities were doing to engage youth.
“It was well used,” she said, even though the ice wasn’t level (“Kids didn’t care.”)
It wasn’t just kids using it, either. Regular users included families, and stressing its cross-generational appeal is important to MacMaster.
It’s a chance to know your neighbours, she said; a chance for seniors to see kids playing and helping; a chance for kids to seniors in a different light.
The broader community has played a role, too. The tarps were donated by Certified Sales and Marketing, and the location the rink’s been given has heated washrooms and lights.
“The town’s been great,” she said.
Once the plastic is in, the gradual flooding begins. MacMaster hopes the rink will be ready for skating the weekend of Jan. 12, 13.
The rink wrangler would like to see outdoor skating spots in more neighbourhoods.
“That would be great,” she said: outdoor skating accessible on foot to young people and others across Amherst.
UPDATE: MacMaster received news this morning the SAL Group has donated $1,000 to the ice rink.