Rink in the making

Published 9:54 am Tuesday, January 30, 2007

By By ANDY HAMILTON / Niles Daily Star
NILES – Niles could have a skating rink by early next week.
Joe Ray, assistant director of Niles Department of Public Works, said at the earliest the rink at Eastside Park would be useable on Saturday. He has also cautioned that skating on the ice before it is complete could ruin the smoothness of the surface for the season.
"Hopefully after a couple days we can get a plow out here, knock the bumps down and make it smooth and then flood it," Ray said.
Ray, along with Niles residents and volunteers Larry Pickles and Paul Mooney, were at Eastside Park Monday night spraying the surface with a three-inch hose, courtesy of the Niles Fire Department. They first used last week a five-inch hose to try flooding the area while it was still grass, but the ground was not completely frozen and the water soaked in, Ray said.
Since then, they have been spraying the water – which Ray said leaves the fire hydrant at about 50 degrees – into the air to chill it before it hits the ground. The group said they anticipate spending three to four hours spraying the surface each night this week.
Ray said he's hoping the temperatures in the high teens expected during the week and through the weekend will allow volunteers to establish a frozen base and then flood the 180 feet by 280 feet surface. Once the final layer sits and freezes a smooth skating surface should be available, Ray said.
"If we can get a good base built up then we can just spray it every so often," Ray said of maintaining the ice rink.
Niles Community Schools' Westside Administrative Services Center was posed as the original site of the ice rink, said Niles superintendent Doug Law. However, he added after investigation it was discovered that neither the city nor school district's liability insurance policy would cover the rink, and by moving the rink to Eastside Park it would be covered under the city's policy