Maggie’s Place program supervisor Sarah MacMaster is among those patiently waiting for colder temperatures so the new outdoor skating rink at Dickey Park can be enjoyed by the community.
AMHERST – The tarp is down, the perimeter is in place and the area is flooded. Now only one thing is needed for Amherst’s newest outdoor skating rink – cold winter temperatures.
The town’s popular outdoor rink has been moved from the former Lions Park on Hickman Street to the East Pleasant Street corner of Dickey Park, and town workers have been putting things in place during the past week.
“If the weather co-operates, we’ll probably have ice this week sometime,” said Roger MacIsaac, Amherst’s director of community and economic development.
In the past two years, the outdoor rink at the Lions Park was operated in large part by community volunteers, while the town played a supporting role in providing water, manpower, etc. This year, the town has taken the lead role, while community volunteers remain active in support.
Heading up this community effort is Sarah MacMaster, program supervisor at Maggie’s Place, who said the partnership with the town has worked well.
“The town just kind of said, ‘If you can do it and show it can happen, we’ll do what we can to support you,’ and they gave us the space,” MacMaster explained. “It’s been a good partnership, and I’m hooping the community continues to support it and use it.”
While the Amherst Stadium has many programs available for public skating, there is just something about outdoor skating that can’t be matched, she said.
“It’s important for people to connect with the outdoors, and get fresh air,” she said. “It’s a great space for all ages to come together.”
Volunteers are still needed for maintaining the space, such as shoveling and flooding, but the town will clear it after large snowfalls.
The former site of the rink became unavailable this year as the site has been chosen for construction of the town's new elementary school, which will replace West Highlands Elementary School.
The Dickey Park location is suitable because of its available electricity, washrooms, temporary lighting, and is even situated in a spot sheltered by trees from prevailing winds, according to MacIsaac. If proven a success, he said the rink could become a permanent fixture at the site, along with a possible concrete slab available for activities such as basketball in the summer months.
“I think it’s great to have in the community,” he said. “As long as we have a good partnership with community groups like Maggie’s Place and the volunteers who have supported it, it’s a win-win for us.”