City staff begin setting up ice rink

Crews with the Big Rapids Department of Public Works and Public Safety worked together Wednesday afternoon to set up and fill the city ice rink at Hemlock Park. Nearly 20,000 gallons of water were needed begin setting up the rink surface for use in the months of winter ahead. The rink will open at a later date. (Pioneer photo/Brandon Fountain)

BIG RAPIDS — The weather has shifted and colder temperatures are making it feel more like winter.

Crews from the Big Rapids Department of Public Works responded to the change in weather on Wednesday and began setting up the ice rink in the outfield of the softball diamond at Hemlock Park. Employees were tasked with putting the liner in place and using nearly 20,000 gallons of water to begin setting the surface.

This will be the fifth year the rink has been set up, said Heather Bowman, director of public works.

“There’s a lot that has to be coordinated on the Public Works end,” she said. “It takes a lot of effort. It’s not always just Park and Recreation staff, but we also get the street guys and construction guys to help us. It’s an all-in effort.

“We would like to have the liner and water in place before the ground freezes, usually around mid-November, after we’ve seen the forecast and see the temperatures are going to plummet.”

Bowman said after getting the liner in place early Wednesday afternoon, staff from the Department of Public Safety began delivering the water one truckload at a time.

“In the past, Public Safety has used the truck method to haul water from their building to the rink, filling it one truckload at a time,” she said. “Sometimes, they’ve used a fire hydrant to fill it up even faster.”

Bowman said it is more efficient to fill the rink up at one time and wait for it to freeze, rather than building up the surface using different layers.

“We just have to be patient and hope people stay away from the rink until the gates open and the lights are put in,” she said. “We have to let Mother Nature take its course right now.”

Bowman said the city will announce when the rink is ready for skaters and hockey games.

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Posted by Brandon Fountain

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