Monday, December 3, 2012

Preserving a Winter Tradition: Skating in North Conway's Schouler Park

The holidays are a great time to get the family together and get outside. As we count down the days to Christmas we are looking forward ice skating in North Conway's Schouler Park.  The article below highlights some of the improvements to the rink. Until then, let it snow..

Via Conway Daily Sun

Preserving a winter tradition

Revamped North Conway Rink to be dedicated Saturday

By Tom Eastman
There's new look to the old rink in North Conway's Schouler Park.
Through a consortium comprised of local businesses, the North Conway Water Precinct, the North Conway Outing Club, the Mount Washington Valley Chamber of Commerce and the Town of Conway, the rink is being re-dedicated with a ribbon-cutting ceremony set for 4 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 24, followed by a tree-lighting ceremony at 5 p.m. 
11-24-schouler-park-skatingFollowing a tragic accident last year that claimed the life of a local woman, the town, the precinct, the chamber and outing club came together with a new plan for the governance of the rink.
As attendees will see come Saturday, the result is a newly remodeled warming hut. New 10-inch, 2-by-10-inch pressure-treated, low wood boards will be installed by next week to replace the old chest-high hockey rink boards.
The boards will be attached to rebar.
Donations have been raised by the community through the Community Celebrations group formed by the Mount Washington Valley Chamber of Commerce in cooperation with the town, water precinct and local businesses to promote local holiday celebrations.
"Everyone pitched in,” said town manager Earl Sires, who said that the town Parks and Recreation Department will staff the rink this upcoming season.
The North Conway Water Precinct annually makes a budget article contribution, which this past year was $6,750.
The rest of the maintenance cost has been matched by local businesses, bringing the budget to $12,000.
“No taxpayer money other than the precinct voter contributions will be involved this year,” said Sires Tuesday.
Under the arrangement, the town will provide liability insurance and supervision of the rink during operating hours.
No ice hockey will be allowed on the rink — it will be for figure skating only. Hours for the December to March season will be 2 to 8 p.m. Thursdays; 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, and every day Dec. 23 through Jan. 1, Jan. 21, and Feb. 18 through 28; and Sundays 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Those hours could be extended, should fund-raising efforts allow, noted Conway Parks and Recreation director John Eastman.
“Janice Crawford [of the Mount Washington Valley Chamber of Commerce's Community Celebrations] is continuing to seek business and community donations,” said Eastman during a tour of the new warming hut and skating area this week.
Eastman noted he was happy to see the improvements and to see how the community has responded.
As he spoke, rec department staffers Lee Champagne and Chris Rouleau were busy putting the finishing touches on the warming shack, which has been painted to match the colors of the Conway Scenic Railroad's 1874-built North Conway Train Station.
“Russ Seybold [of the CSRR] nicely gave us the paint code so we were able to get the warming hut colors to match,” said Eastman.
The windows in the warming hut were replaced with five larger recycled windows that were taken from the town transfer station.
“Now, people will be able to sit inside the warming hut and look out the windows to the kids skating on the rink,” said Eastman.
The door will now feature a carpeted ramp leading from the hut to the ice surface. The inside flooring of the hut has also been covered with a matting. Benches are being installed, and the propane heater has also been upgraded.
Lighting has been upgraded on both ends of the hut, which features an equipment/maintenance room.
As he spoke, Champagne and Lee erected the new sign that has been created by Gemini Designs of Conway.
Names shown on the metal sign include: the North Conway Water Precinct, the Town of Conway, the North Conway Outing Club, the Home Depot, Bryant Wrecker Service, J&J Flooring, D.W. Eletrical Contractors, the Colonial Motel, Ragged Mountain Equipment, Mount Washington Valley Ski Touring and Snowshoe Association, Leone, McDonnell and Roberts; the Valley Originals, Zeb's General Store, Cranmore Mountain Resort, the Mount Washington Radio Group and Gemini Sign and Design.
The rink will be situated on the softball diamond, with the raised pitcher's mound removed for the winter.
“We've placed the rink in a position so it will be best served by four of the ballfield lights,” said Eastman, noting that the department is currently working on upgrades to the sound system for music to be played for skaters. “The new sign will also be well visible from Main Street.”
Eastman saluted the efforts of John Cannell of the North Conway Outing Club and the commissioners of the North Conway Water Precinct (chair Robert Porter and fellow commissioners Jim Umberger and John Santuccio).
“The North Conway Outing Club and the North Conway Water Precinct have been instrumental in keeping the rink alive,” said Eastman, a Conway native and athlete who played many a hockey game in his youth at the old Schouler Park rink.
Although hockey will now be a thing of the past in the park, Eastman said he thinks that the public will respond well to the upgrades.
“The rink is such a focal point for the village. It's part of the local tradition of a small New England village,” he said.
Although hockey is no longer allowed in Schouler Park, players of all ages may play at the indoor Ham Arena, built by the community in 1998 off West Main Street in Conway. The Ham also offers indoor figure skating and programs offered by the MWV Skating Club.
Eastman's comments were echoed by Cathy Hunter of the Village Barbershop of North Conway.
“I learned how to skate on that rink when I was 3 years old,” said Hunter, while giving a haircut at the local landmark establishment this week. “That rink is part of our local heritage.”
She has received donations form her patrons, just for the rink. “We raised $500 in the past month and we're going to keep it going,” said Hunter. “The rink is something that locals and visitors alike can enjoy.”

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