The Hagerstown Ice and Sports Complex is temporarily closed to resolve issues with its cooling system.
An April 14 post on the resort’s website and Facebook page said the issue prevented a small portion of the ice from freezing, which could not be repaired with the ice surface intact.
Hagerstown Ice Amateur Athletic Association board chairman Paul Sweeney said on Monday that the system that freezes the ice is directly below it, so the only way to fix the ice is to remove it.
The Hagerstown Ice Amateur Athletic Association operates the City-owned facilities of Fairgrounds Park.
Sweeney said there were about 63,000 feet, or about 12 miles, of pipe directly below the ice surface.
When a section of about 1 foot by 12 feet appeared “almost melted” a few weeks ago, Sweeney said the rink was closed to assess the problem. An oil clog was preventing refrigerant from moving through the piping.
Sweeney said the building’s temperature had been raised and lowered several times to “flush” the cooling system of excess oil.
While he is “fairly confident” that the clogs are gone, Sweeney said he doesn’t know how much oil was added to the 25-year-old system or why. He said rink staff members extracted about 75 gallons of oil from a system that should only have 20 to 25 gallons.
“It’s possible that we took advantage of it for the most part, but we have no way of really knowing that,” he said.
Sweeney said that while it is possible for the pipes to clog again, he doesn’t expect that to happen.
He said the HIAAA took over management of the rink in 2014 and “spent a lot of time and money addressing the lack of attention that was previously required to maintain this system properly.”
Late last year, General Manager Dan Lavallière located a refrigerant leak that melted ice. The ice was fixed, but there was some discoloration in the paint, Sweeney said.
Staff have already started to put the ice back, but the process is time consuming as only about a quarter of an inch of ice is deposited and frozen at a time. The mirror is also fully painted and marked with different lines.
Hagerstown engineer Rodney Tissue said in an email Monday that the rink staff are doing the job, so there is no planned additional cost to the town.
Sweeney said most years since 2014, the ice has been melted and replaced during the summer. This year, the two-week process was scheduled for June 1-15 and will not have to happen now.
Hockey and figure skating schedules delayed due to the emergency closure will resume when the rink reopens.