The question is, how soon can it be ready for use?

    Wildwood Park in Crookston’s Woods Addition will soon be home to a primitive ice-skating rink for the public to use, but it’s not likely to be ready for use until temperatures dip well below freezing and stay there. The recent mild temperatures, therefore, might make it difficult to have the rink finished and reading for skating during the upcoming holiday break for students, Parks & Recreation Director Scott Riopelle told the Crookston Park Board Monday.

    The forecast extending into next week does show a downturn in temperatures, however.

    The park board last month, during a discussion about current recreational facilities and amenities in the community and “wish list” items for the future, expressed a desire to offer more outdoor ice-skating options in the community. In the weeks since that meeting, Riopelle said he went around town to gauge the feasibility of adding primitive rinks to various City park spaces, and Wildwood Park emerged as the leading contender.

    Riopelle said he visited Landslide Park along West Sixth Street, but the slope is too severe and there are too many trees in the lower-most portion near the Red Lake River. He also went to Aunt Polly’s Slough adjacent to Jerome’s Addition, but observed hockey nets and a skating area already there, and figured it would be best to let that area be. He also went to Schuster Park off Memorial Drive and Locken Boulevard, but said slope issues and the proximity of a City catch basin present problems.

    That leaves Wildwood Park. The ground is flat, and the specific area where a skating rink would be most ideal is also adjacent to a City streetlight, which would make evening/nighttime skating possible as well. Wildwood Park has restroom facilities, Riopelle noted, but they lack electricity and are shut down in the winter.

    Once the Wildwood skating rink is finished and ready for use, Riopelle said it will be added to the skating trail in Central Park that he said is “probably skate-able” unless the ice is melting, and the outdoor skating rink at Crookston Sports Center, where, he said, preparations are commencing to get that rink ready for use.

    The Wildwood Park skating rink won’t have dasher boards, but Parks & Recreation Supervisor Scott Butt said snow will be cleared for the rink and “banked” around its perimeter. When it gets colder, the banked snow should freeze and become harder to form a boundary of sorts around the ice. Riopelle figures the rink’s dimensions will be in the range of 40 by 60 feet or 60 by 60 feet, depending on how it’s actually mapped out.

    When the Times last month wrote about the exploration of more skating rink sites in the community, a contingent of supporters made their excitement clear on the Times’ Facebook page. Park board members on Monday said the Wildwood Park rink will be an opportunity for people to show that they’ll actually use a new skating area.

    “If the usage isn’t there, we’ll find out,” board member Chris Fee said. “If not, you had your chance.”

    Riopelle said City crews can clear the snow and start saturating the ground at the Wildwood rink site right away. Then, when the temperatures dip, he said it will be possible to make an ice sheet rapidly.

    “We had hoped to see possibilities in other places, but (Wildwood Park) is it,” Riopelle added. “…We hope it will appease some people in the community.”

Publicity for rink, and more

    Board members suggested to Riopelle and Parks & Recreation Administrative Assistant Andrea Prudhomme that Parks & Rec undertake a publicity/advertising effort to make sure the public knows not just about the ice-skating opportunities in the community, but other recreational amenities, especially since kids and families will be looking for fun activities to partake in over the holiday break.

    Board members suggested additional publicity for options at the Crookston Community Pool, CSC, and things as simple as sledding amenities, such as in Central Park and in Landslide Park.

    As for the latter, Butt said it would probably be wise to do some banking of snow at the bottom of the large hill river the river’s edge. City Administrator Shannon Stassen agreed, saying he has sledded down the Landslide Park hill with his family and that it’s a long run, meaning sledders “get going pretty fast.” If sledders don’t roll off their sleds near the bottom, he added, they’re at risk of going over the bank and landing on the frozen river.

    Butt said he, Riopelle and Prudhomme will do some brainstorming over the next couple of days to come up with ways to best publicize opportunities for activities over the holiday break and beyond.

    “Maybe we can do some things to re-energize folks,” Riopelle said. “When people come home they’re looking for something to do.”

    Board member Becky Kofoed said it would be especially beneficial to get publicity out there sooner rather than later. “There’s a nostalgia part,” she said. “People are coming home (for the holidays) and they’re bringing their kids.”