Area News | Home | Marketplace | Community

Return to Archived Stories

Paynesville Press - Feb. 12, 2003

City has outdoor ice rink

By Bonnie Jo Hanson

For the first time in over a decade, Paynesville has a public outdoor ice rink.

The new rink is located in the Gazebo Park and offers residents an outdoor alternative to skating at the Koronis Civic Arena, said public works director Ron Mergen.

Skating at the ice rink - photo by Bonnie Jo Hanson Open skating is offered at the arena, but only during certain hours each week, due to the schedule demand at the arena. According to Mergen, he kept hearing from people who felt there wasn't enough open skating time for kids who just want to have fun on the ice. City officials responded by building the rink at the Gazebo Park.

The rink was built in late November. It doesn't have hockey boards because it wasn't intended as a place to play hockey.

Libby Swedenburg skates on the new outdoor rink at the Gazebo Park. The rink offers a public outdoor place to skate or play for the first time in a decade.

"This is really great," said Terri Athmann, who runs a daycare in her home across the street from the rink, "especially for the older kids who can play on it while I watch them from the window."

For the time being, said Mergen, the city will gauge how often the ice is used, and eventually the rink may be made larger. Currently, there are no plans for a warming house, Mergen said, but the city could decide in time if one is needed.

The last time there was an outdoor ice rink in the city was 1992. This is the last year that the hockey association operated an outdoor hockey rink near St. Louis Catholic Church. The rink was closed when the Koronis Civic Arena opened.

That rink was built in 1970 when Paynesville's first organized hockey program started. The rink was available for practice around the clock which was important to the hockey program.

Having a place to skate any time of day was important, said Dr. John Welle, the hockey association's first president, and is still important today. He is glad Paynesville has an outdoor skating rink again.

"That's the only way to get enough ice time to practice skating," he said, adding that there were times he was on the ice in the middle of the night, skating with his kids.

Another outdoor ice rink built in the late 1940s was located on school property. It had a warming house with a wood stove, and parents were generally on hand to supervise.

Skating was permitted well into the night. "Every night after chores we would head for the rink. We would skate until 9:30 or 10 p.m.," said Tom Burr, whose father maintained the rink for many years. "We played hockey for hours and never had any protective gear. We made our own sticks out of hickory so they were kind of straight and real heavy, and if we didn't have a puck, we would step on a tin can to flatten it and use that as a puck."

The rink at what is now the elementary school was closed in the early 1980s, and a ball field was built in its place.

Contact the author at   •   Return to News Menu

Home | Marketplace | Community