West Hartford resident Owen Eagan has approached the Town about a volunteer-built and maintained rink in town.
By Ronni Newton
West Hartford resident Owen Eagan thinks that West Hartford residents would enjoy – and benefit from – a free outdoor skating rink, and he plans to address the Town Council during the public comment session on Thursday evening in the hope that it may become a reality.
Eagan isn’t looking for something fancy, or a rink that would require an operator.
“It’s a take-off on a backyard rink. My brother had a rink in his yard and I made one in my yard. The kids learned to skate there,” said Eagan who was born and raised in West Hartford, still lives here, and is a partner in a law firm in town.
Eagan said that the water in a simple rink only needs to be three or four inches deep. All that’s needed to construct the rink is some lumber (2×4 or 2×6), stakes, and plastic. “The biggest expense is the plastic,” he said.
Of course the weather needs to be cold for several days in a row, but the ice will freeze pretty quickly after two or three days of sub-freezing temperatures, Eagan said.
He thinks the community would volunteer to keep the rink clear of snow, just like when he was a kid and his friends would bring shovels to clear the ice if they wanted to skate.
“I think it would be a great winter activity for the town, and a wonderful volunteer opportunity that would get great participation,” Town Manager Ron Van Winkle said.
Town Council member Judy Casperson said she grew up skating outdoors and had an outdoor rink in her own West Hartford yard.
“We’ve looked at this in the past and we’d love to revisit it,” Casperson said. She said she really appreciates people in the community stepping up to make things happen.
“I have so many friends who have one. It’s a great way to get the kids outside, have family time, get away from the TV,” Minority Leader Denise Hall said.
“I enjoyed it so much with my kids. It an alternative when it’s cold outside. It gets you off the couch,” said Eagan. When he was growing up he would skate on outdoor ponds as well. “You’d skate until you got cold, and then you’d go home,” he said.
The biggest hurdle about having an outdoor rink in West Hartford, Eagan said, will be finding the right location and a water source so the rink can be maintained with a fresh layer of ice. The liability to the town will be another consideration, Casperson said.
“There’s nothing like skating outside,” Eagan said. “Other towns have done it successfully. I think West Hartford can, too.”
“I think the kids are missing out. They need to be outside more. The adults, too,” Eagan said.
Eagan is scheduled to bring his idea before the Town Council at a public comment session on Dec. 10 at 5:25 p.m.
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