Donations make ice skating rink a reality

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Naugatuck youth have fun at the former skating rink at Joseph R. Healy Recreation Area on Meadow Street in Naugatuck in 2009. A new portable ice skating rink will be opened this winter in Naugatuck. –RA ARCHIVE
Naugatuck youth have fun at the former skating rink at Joseph R. Healy Recreation Area on Meadow Street in Naugatuck in 2009. A new portable ice skating rink will be opened this winter in Naugatuck. –RA ARCHIVE

NAUGATUCK — Children will soon be able to practice their figure eights, pirouettes and slap shots on a new portable outdoor ice skating rink downtown.

Park Commissioner Linda Ramos raised $6,000 for the rink over the past year with the help of a $3,000 donation from the Ion Bank Foundation.

“It’s just another outlet for children. The community bought into it. The community loved the idea,” Ramos said.

Ramos said the rink was delivered two weeks ago and she is waiting for the St. Francis Church Council to approve a location for the rink on St. Francis Field on Church Street.

The temperature will have to drop below 32 degrees Fahrenheit for long enough to freeze about 16,560 gallons of water into a 4-inch-thick sheet of ice before the rink can open.

The 72-foot by 92-foot oval rink with kick boards is about the size of a basketball court, Ramos said. The rink will be open and not enclosed by Plexiglas boards or barriers, according to a press release from Ion Bank. Since St. Francis Field has lights, the public may be able to use the rink at night, according to the press release.

Ramos said her son, who is a USA Hockey coach, asked her to bring the idea to the Park Commission before she became a commissioner because the makeshift ice rink in the parking lot at Salem School is not adequate.

Ramos said the Park and Recreation Department will hold events at the rink and volunteers will supervise the rink for open skating, but she hasn’t put together a schedule yet. She said youth hockey teams may also use the rink.

Now that she has the rink, Ramos hopes to continue fundraising for other amenities, including hockey nets, used skates for people who don’t have their own pair to borrow, benches and bleachers and security cameras.

“It’s just another form of enjoyment for those who don’t have the money to do anything,” Ramos said.

Ramos said she will put up a suggested donation box and will offer hot chocolate and sell hot dogs on recreation nights. If St. Francis approves the location, Ramos said, she will give 50 percent of food sales to the church.

Ramos said she hopes the rink gives the youngsters who have been vandalizing town property and kicking out boards from the gazebo something less destructive to do.

The rink can be stored after the ice melts in the spring and reused every year as long as the parks department maintains it and replaces a couple of kick boards or a liner from time to time, Ramos said.

“I think it’s going to be a great addition to Naugatuck. It’s going to be a place where kids will want to go to have a good time,” Ramos said.