Northport Elementary home to community rink
NORTHPORT – To some people it’s just a slab of asphalt in a field, but for the students of Northport Consolidated Elementary and the community it yards of fun.
© Christopher Gooding photo
Sometimes fun begins when the road ends, and sometimes it starts where the asphalt begins. Northport Consolidated Elementary is now home to an asphalt slab that will serve as a skating rink this winter and the scene for basketball, volleyball and tennis in the Spring, school Principal Steven Wells says.
Situated behind the school with lighting on either side, the asphalt surface seems vacant but Principal Steven Wells sees not only its potential as a outdoor rink and sports area, but the story of how it came to be.
“Over 10 years ago [former principal] Rod Ogden designed the initial layout and ran it for two seasons as a rink,” Wells said. “Four winters ago, thanks to the fire department here and Tidnish, they flooded the surface and had skating from January to March. The Ramblers came out for Hockey Day in Northport and it was a lot of fun.”
But the following years were not in the school’s favour. The temperatures never established enough frost for a successful flooding and Wells started thinking of options to get a permanent surface in place.
“Through Nova Scotia Sport and Rec, I applied for funding a three-phase project,” Wells explained. “One – the asphalt surface; two – storage; and three boarding around the slab.”
The province funded $12,000 and the Municipality of Cumberland County followed with an addition $8,000, making way for the 50’ by 100’ surface contracted through Costin Paving. A small group of parent volunteers will tend to the surface and thanks to county Warden Keith Hunter, the school has a snow blower for clearing the surface after inclement weather.
Not only will it be an ice surface this winter for students and the community to enjoy, it’s already had its first run as basketball surface and four outdoor nets are now on order and plans are in place for volleyball and tennis netting to maximize its potential.
When Northport Consolidated was built in the 1960s, Wells said, the gymnasium space inside the school was almost an afterthought and to small to meet the students needs.
“It’s a wonderful auditorium, but not a gym. I give a lot of credit to our gym teacher for coming up with some really neat ways of using the space.”
For a small community like Northport, the recreational surface is a big thing for the community, Wells said, and the public is encouraged to use it after school hours.
“It’s really a community rink. We have the lights on a timer. They go on at 5 p.m., stop at 10 p.m. and we invite the public to come out and use it.”