Springfield-area residents team up to build ice rink

Vicky Klukkert | The Daily Star Jacqueline Nirschl, left, tends goal against her sister Emily Nirschl and brother Trent Nirschl at the new ice rink in Springfield Center on Tuesday, Jan. 25. The three started playing hockey a week ago. 

Communities came together recently to build an ice skating rink in the town of Springfield.

The rink, next to the Springfield Community Center on county Route 29A, was built to give people something to do outside in the winter, said Ashley Sikkema, the town’s park and recreation director.

Sikkema said she noticed a lot of people were suffering from anxiety this winter and said she wanted to provide an outside activity for the community. Her friend, Wayne Stutzman, said he had helped the Amish community build an ice rink and she had him develop plans that she could present to the town board.

“The rink cost $5,000,” Sikkema said. “How could we not do it at that price?”

She thanked the town board members for approving the project and said the rink was built in stages. The form was placed first. Once the ground froze, the liner was secured and then the walls were installed. She said people of all ages from the local and the Amish communities came out to help build the rink.

“It was so nice,” she said. “Members of the Amish community and our community came together to build it. Even people just driving by stopped and started helping.”

Once the walls were up, the Cherry Valley, Springfield and Richfield Springs Fire Departments filled the rink using 40 tankers full of water Sikkema said. The ground is not level, so there is 5 inches of water on one side and 12 inches of water on the other side, she said.

“We might level it off in the spring or summer for next year,” she said. Once the ice melts in the spring, the rink will be taken down and the materials will be stored in a shed until next winter. The town will have to renew its insurance and buy a liner each year, but the labor to build it will be donated, she said.

The town moved a baseball dugout over to the ice rink to store donated ice skates, hockey sticks and skate trainers. Two hockey nets are inside the rink for pickup hockey games or practice.

“All of the skates have been donated and the town paid to have them sharpened,” she said. “People can try out the skates to see if they like them, then they can go buy a pair of their own.”

The rink has been popular since it opened a few weeks ago and people of all ages have skated at the rink, she said. She has seen toddlers being pulled around in sleds on the ice by their parents and senior citizens visiting the rink to see what’s happening.

“The other night, 12 teenagers brought pizza and came here to learn how to skate and to hang out,” she said. “The other day there were 40 kids here after school. People who haven’t skated in 20 years have come to see if they still can. People have come here for date nights. It’s been great to see the community come out and reconnect with each other.”

The rink is open from dawn to 9 p.m. when the lights get turned off, she said. In addition to the ice skating rink, people can snowshoe or cross country ski on the recreation center property.

Vicky Klukkert, staff writer, can be reached at vklukkert@thedailystar.com or 607-441-7221. Follow her @DS_VickyK on Twitter.

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