by Chris Chase
Coastal Journal staff
DAMARISCOTTA — The Damariscotta River Association’s (DRA) ice skating rink is in its second year of use, and so far this year the rink has seen plenty of use – or at least it did when it still had some ice on it.
“With the warm weather, we closed it,” said Matt Filler, a member of the DRA and the person responsible for the skating rink. “With all that snow and slush we had, the ice isn’t as good as it could be.”
The DRA, a land trust for the Damariscotta River region, started the rink after learning of the Nice Rink product, which allows an outdoor rink to be set up and taken down easily without a great deal construction. Using a simple liner that can then be filled with water, the DRA has created a 136-by-72-foot rink that is open to the public.
“Every year, we have to take it down and put it back up again,” said Filler. “We can put that thing up and down in about two and a half hours, but it is a lot of work.”
That work is done by volunteers, who give their time to both set up the rink and maintain the ice over the course of the winter. Although the DRA can’t afford a full-sized Zamboni machine, they have a similar small device that can resurface the ice. However, any shaving of the ice has to be done by hand.
According to Filler, the rink was created to give the community a place to skate that was safe and in a central location.
“There was no place for the kids here in town to skate, other than going to some pond and shoveling it off,” said Filler.
New to the rink is a set of lights that are set up to allow for skating into the evening. Times have also been set aside by the DRA for pick-up hockey. Those who do not own skates may be able to acquire some from the DRA, though there’s no guarantee that they will be the right size.
One word of caution that Filler asks everyone to abide by: When the rink is closed due to thin ice, stay off it. Although the water isn’t deep enough for anyone to get hurt in, the liner can be easily punctured by anyone who breaks through the ice. If a skate pierces the ice and sends all the water pouring out, it can ruin both the surface that the liner sits on and everyone’s fun until the liner can be patched so more ice can be made.
The rink is closed for now, thanks to the January thaw. But Filler hopes that this year will bring a bit more cold weather and a bit more fun for anyone who wants to strap on a pair of ice skates.
“We’re hoping that every year it gets a little bit better,” said Filler.