Jefferson City ice rink working to stay open during summer
JEFFERSON CITY - The Washington Park Ice Arena is looking to keep its ice cold in the summer heat with a new proposal from the Jefferson City Parks and Recreation Department.
While a final decision won't be made until this August, the Jefferson City Parks and Recreation Commission received a recommendation to keep the Washington Park Ice Arena open on April 12th.
According to Parks Director Todd Spalding, keeping the ice rink open year-round isn't a new idea.
"The staff have been discussing this for certain times throughout the last few years and in the last couple of months, we started getting serious about it," said Spalding.
"We started putting pen to paper and saying 'it's going to cost this much, it's going to affect this many people.'"
Arena supervisor Kerri Gates says the biggest reason parks and rec made the recommendation is for the community.
"It helps the citizens who come here to skate," said Gates.
"That's why we do it. Parks does what it does to help the community."
The proposal would also help the community create more job opportunities.
"For coaches, for those who want to be an attendant or a rink guard, it's really going to be offering more opportunities, more jobs to the community," Arena Skating Director Rachel Bruemmer said.
Keeping the rink open during the summer also benefits local skaters such as Caroline Kimchi, who says she's excited for the proposal.
"We won't have to go to Charleston and we get to stay here," Kimchi said.
Skater Geri Gilbert is glad that skaters won't miss the opportunity to have a rink nearby.
"It's wasted in the summer," Gilbert said.
"Certainly the school kids over the summer could be doing a lot of training."
There aren't many ice rinks near Mid-Missouri according to Phil Stiles, who is the Jefferson City Director for Recreational Facilities and Special Services. Gilbert said the closest rink to her house that isn't Washington Park Ice Arena is in Kansas City, which is why she doesn't skate over the summer.
"I live at Lake of the Ozarks so I have other things to do [during the summer]," Gilbert said.
"I'd like another good month and a half of skating."
With the extra hours and extra programs, the staff at Washington Park Ice Arena is expecting to work a little bit harder.
"Anytime you add months onto a season, it's gonna be a heavier workload," said Bruemmer.
"However, it's something we're really excited about doing."
The work put in by the Washington Park Ice Arena staff won't go unnoticed to skaters such as Gilbert.
"I've skated in a lot of rinks over the years and I would say this is one of the best," Gilbert said.
"Its got a good lobby, good people running it, good hours, etc."
Luckily for Gilbert, Spalding has a lot of confidence that this proposal will get passed when the parks and rec budget is finalized.
"It will be open year-round, I believe next year for sure," Spalding said.