Winter Touch-a-Truck, open skate planned at the ice rink

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All ice in Liberty Township is safe for drivers and pedestrians.

For the past several weeks, the township has operated a temporary skating rink inside Liberty Park, 2845 Home Road. The rink is popular with residents when the weather permits, said township park supervisor Michael Landon.

The township will host an open skating and winter Touch-a-Truck event from noon to 2 p.m. on Feb. 19 at the rink, weather permitting, Township Councilor Shyra Eichhorn said. Municipal vehicles will be on site and refreshments will be served.

“It’s ‘open skate’ during the day anyway, but we wanted to try and see if we could encourage even more residents to enjoy our parks in the winter,” she said.

Township administrators approved up to $8,500 for the purchase in December, and installation began after the rink was shipped in January. Installation took about four hours, Landon said.

“Not bad considering we’ve never done anything like this before,” he said.

The temperatures were too high at first, but “since it froze we were able to leave it open,” Landon said. “I wouldn’t say there were a lot of people, but most of the time there is at least someone outside. As long as it’s cold, that’s a good thing.

“This rink provides a fun way for the community to continue enjoying our parks throughout the winter,” said Township Administrator Mike Schuiling.

“We’ve had overwhelmingly positive feedback,” Eichhorn said.

Township parks staff maintain the rink, which relies on nature to freeze water. The rink is a simple framed plastic liner surrounded by planks, Landon said. It has no refrigeration or mechanism to keep the surface cool beyond nature’s low temperatures.

Staff members, where possible, keep the rink free of snow and add water as necessary to improve ice conditions, but use of the rink is not supervised by the township and is considered “skate at your own risk,” he said.

The rink is open during regular park hours, from 7:30 a.m. until dusk, he said. Ice hockey and similar organized activities are not permitted.

Schuiling said the township held a skating night in late January, an after-hours event for free skating and refreshments sold by a local Cub Scout group.

After this skating season, the rink will be put into storage for reuse next winter, Landon said. The liners are usually good for about three years, he said, and the frame much longer.

Eichhorn said the township has been discussing how to improve the skating experience for residents next year. One thing the township has heard from residents is a desire to rent skates. Eichhorn said the possibility is being considered and could be implemented this year, but there will almost certainly be some form of rental opportunity next year.

“We wanted to strike a balance between our need for manpower to run the rink and having as many people as possible benefit from it,” she said. “We think it’s possible (to make rentals). We decided to do it a bit late in the season this year just to see how it would go, and with the positive response we’ll work on ways to keep improving it.

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