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Westminster considers building permanent ice-skating rink


Public skating in Westminster has been put on ice for the winter.

After seeing five years of slush and puddles, Ronald J. Schroers, the city's recreation director, decided to stop using the portable ice rink acquired by the city in 1995. The rink, set up for two months each winter in Dutterer Family Park, did not have a refrigeration unit and was dependent on the weather.

Warm, sunny winter days made for too many days of bad ice skating.

"People were wanting to skate and they couldn't," said Schroers, who added that the rink was open seven to 20 days each winter. "It was time to get real or get out of it."

The rink, which measured 80 feet by 192 feet, was the only public ice-skating rink in Carroll County, Schroers said. Because of the scarcity of ice, he said, he preferred to call it "the largest wading pool in Carroll County."

The decision to stop using the rink was made at the end of February, when he realized that its plastic liner was full of holes and needed to be replaced. Doing so would have cost $4,500. Instead, he had the rink hauled to the dump.

Schroers said he would like to install a rink similar to Baltimore's Inner Harbor Ice Rink at Rash Field -- an outdoor rink with a portable refrigerator. That would cost about $350,000 for the equipment and two machines to smooth the ice. The city would have to hire a company to maintain the ice, he said. How to fund such a rink and when it might be installed have not been determined.

"It's a real neat concept," he said. "We could have the rink for six months out of the year and still use the area for other events."

Last winter, Schroers and some of his staff went with city Planning and Public Works Director Thomas B. Beyard to three Baltimore ice rinks to research possibilities for Westminster's ice rink.

Beyard said location is critical to the success of a new rink. "You just have to have the right feel," he said. "City Park would be my prime location for a new rink, but how we'd fit it in there would have to be investigated."

The Westminster ice rink opened in 1995 after a business owner asked for a place where her grandson could ice skate.

The city bought the portable rink with her $7,000 donation and placed it in Westminster City Park on a baseball diamond. But the surface wasn't level, and the rink had 2 feet of ice at one end and 4 inches of ice at the other. The rink was moved to Dutterer Family Park in 1997.

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