Edwards ice rink project takes more than ’water and hope’
Volunteers converge on site to construct new amenity
It was a proverbial “it takes a village” moment in Edwards last Saturday when around three dozen volunteers turned out to build the community’s new outdoor ice rink.
The rink is located at a parking area next to the Edwards Field House and will be open to the public, free of charge, in just a few days. The facility is a project of Mountain Recreation.
Project is the operative term there. It took a public process to approve the rink and it takes a lot of work to actually produce a skating surface. All this started several months ago, when Mountain Recreation came up with the idea.
“We wanted it to be a place for community, similar to what is going on in Eagle,” said Mountain Recreation’s Eddie Campos. The rec district allocated $25,000 and started looking around for project expertise and project partners.
Before it could start on the rink, Mountain Recreation had to launch a public hearing process through Eagle County — complete with a staff analysis, referral agency comment and a public hearing. Last week the commissioners approved the seasonal ice rink operation, clearing the way for the project.
When it came to the logistics of actually building an outdoor rink, Mountain Recreation knew there was an expert close to home. For many years now, Andy Clark has worked on the Eagle Town Park rink and he was willing to offer his help to launch the Edwards facility.
“He walked us through the process, every step of the way,” Campos said.
Building and ice rink isn’t as simple as flooding a field, Clark stressed.
“Natural ice rinks have to have layers. You can’t just pour a swimming pool and wait to it to freeze,” said Clark. “It is not just throwing down lots of water and hope.”
What lies underneath a rink is as important as the ice on top, Clark noted. At the Edwards site, there was a two-foot drop from one end of the proposed surface to the other.
“Having worked on the town of Eagle rink all these years, we know that even a foot of drop is challenging,” Clark said.
Luckily, Clark said the Edwards project found a key partner in Chris Fedrizzi, a former hockey dad who donated sand and compacting service to help flatten the surface.
Once the site was prepped, the call went out for volunteers to lay out tarps and build side panels. Nearly 40 Edwards area residents responded, gathering in snowy conditions at the site Dec. 12.
“I was impressed with how they came out,” Clark said. “They have a really good commitment from volunteers.”
The project will need that, Clark continued. Once the structure was constructed and the initial layer of ice was put down, volunteers led by Tom Boyd — a hockey dad who is the director of PR and the Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater for the Vail Valley Foundation — have overseen numerous floods to build the ice layers. It’s vital to keep folks off the surface while that work proceeds to prevent the ice from cracking.
“Everyone wants to get out on the ice when they see it shining,” said Clark. “But you can’t break the plate.”
Clark said after seven to eight days to build up the layers, the rink should be good to go. Once that happens, it will be an open, unprogrammed facility for kids and adults to enjoy. There will be hockey goals set up at the rink waiting for pickup action to start. What’s more, the rec district has some equipment available for people who don’t have skates.
“Thanks to the Colorado Avalanche Alumni Association, they have donated many sets of kids hockey gear, head to toe, for ages 5 to 12 years,” Campos said. “We are really excited to keep people active and we really excited to welcome everyone to the sport of hockey.
Campos noted in addition to all the volunteers who labored on the project, many local partners helped make it happen. Additionally, there were five rink sponsors — Berry Creek Metro District, Edwards Metro District, Vail Mountaineers, Mountain Youth and Eagle Valley Behavioral Health.
“We had a great response from the community,” Campos said. “It’s been a huge community effort throughout everything.”
And, he noted, Mountain Recreation hopes 2020 is just the start of hockey in Edwards.
“Hopefully this will be a tradition we will keep going year after year and something we will make a part of our community,” Campos said.
To learn more visit mountainrec.org.