Avon plans to bring public skating back to Nottingham Lake in 2021 | VailDaily.com

Avon plans to bring public skating back to Nottingham Lake in 2021

A Vail Daily file photo from Jan. 2006 shows ice skaters on Nottingham Lake preparing for a game of hockey. The town plans to bring back public skating for 2021.
Kira Horvath | Vail Daily file photo

Summer isn’t usually a time to have ice skating on the mind, but over the course of the summer in Avon this year, a lot of thought went into how the town might bring back ice skating on Nottingham Lake.

On Tuesday, the Avon Public Works department presented a plan to the Avon Town Council, which the town intends to follow through on this winter, to bring ice skating back to Nottingham Lake this winter.

Ice thickness studies were conducted during the winter of 2019-20 after council members expressed interest in bringing public skating back to the lake in 2019.

“From the data collected last year we anticipate that our season will last roughly 30 days from the first week of January to the first week February; however, temperatures vary substantially year to year,” Public Works Superintendent Drew Isaacson wrote in a memo.

A minimum 4-inch thickness will be required before an employee in a coldwater immersion suit will be able to take more measurements, and a thickness of 10 to 12 inches will be required prior to allowing public on the ice sheet.

Snow will need to be completely removed from the ice sheet, onto the shore, due to the inherent weight of piled snow, Isaacson said.

Prepping for the ice will also require the public works department to remove the dock that’s currently in the proposed ice area; the dock will be moved to and stored in the fenced area behind the parks garage, Isaacson said.

“We are optimistic that we can accomplish this in one day with all hands on,” Isaacson said. “The dock will be disassembled into manageable sections, towed to the boat ramp, picked up with the front-end loader, and transported to the south side of the parks garage for winter storage.”

‘Something that only the town of Avon can do’

Public access to the ice on Nottingham Lake has been shut down since 2012, after employees had fallen through the ice in attempts to maintain the surface.

A third-party contractor will now conduct snow removal in Avon, according to the new plan. The town plans to issue a request for the proposal in the coming months.

The town expects the cost of maintaining the free public access to be $30,000 to $40,000 for the roughly one month of ice that’s expected to be sufficiently strong in an average year.

Councilmembers said the town has been happy to put that much toward special events in the past, and the ice is a special event that could last for a month.

“I’m just thinking of the cost as a winter special event, and I can easily imagine us spending this amount of money on a special event in the winter,” said Mayor Sarah Smith Hymes.

Councilmember Jake Wolf said if capacity restrictions go into effect on Beaver Creek Mountain, pond skating in Avon could provide an alternative activity.

“This could give some opportunity to do some winter activities that are not on the mountain,” Wolf said.

Councilmembers Chico Thuon and Tamra Underwood, who were both strong supporters of pond skating since getting elected to council in 2018, thanked the town staff for proceeding with an idea that was not popular among staff — who carry memories of employees falling through the ice — when the idea was first proposed in 2019.

“I really want to say thank you for having a can-do attitude,” Underwood told town staff. “So that we can bring the community something that only the town of Avon can do, and we can only do it because of you, and because of you embracing the possibility of doing it and doing it well and doing it safely.”

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