Will local ice skaters have a place to go before spring arrives?
That all depends on Mother Nature.
Whether the Greg Schena Memorial Ice Rink is opened at Bartlem Park this year remains uncertain because of the unseasonably warm winter that the Northeast has been experiencing. Usually, Cheshire opens the rink at Bartlem towards the beginning of the winter, but according to Town Officials it has not been consistently cold enough to actually create the ice necessary.
“The ice rink is indeed installed,” stated Arnett Talbot, Cheshire’s assistant town manager, “but we haven’t been able to open it since we haven’t had enough cold weather to freeze the ice solid.”
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), this winter has been one of the warmest on record for a majority if the Northeast, and Cheshire is no exception. Throughout much of the winter, temperatures have remained in the mid-40s, despite the fact that the average high for Connecticut in January is supposed to be in the mid-30s.
“You need the frost in the ground,” added Town Manager Sean Kimball. “Otherwise, the warmer temps radiating from the ground will compromise the ice, even on a suddenly very cold day. Coupled with the fact that the rink is in full sun, we’ve had a few days where the rink was usable for a few morning hours, but unusable by the afternoon.”
Typically, outdoor ice rinks, like the one in Bartlem Park, need multiple days of below-freezing temperatures, to not only solidify the ice, but also make sure the ground underneath is hard enough to hold the rink and the people skating on it. The Greg Schena Memorial Ice Rink usually opens in December and stays open, weather permitting, until the end of February.
“The weather has not been cooperative and not a true winter … “explained John Gawlak, director of Cheshire Parks and Recreation. “The rink is located in the open, exposed to full sunlight so, on days where temps are above freezing, ice conditions are not suitable for skating.”
The skating area is unsupervised, and the use of helmets and protective gear is strongly encouraged to keep Cheshire residents safe on the ice at all times.
The ice rink, which is usually open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., is named in honor of former Cheshire resident and athlete Greg Schena, who passed away after a car accident in 2010.
“It’s definitely been frustrating and no one would like to have it open more than we do,” Kimball said. “Some other communities have invested in chilling pipes and specialized equipment to ensure it can be open, but without those features our rink it is very weather-dependent.”
Those with questions or concerns regarding the Greg Schena Memorial Ice Rink can call (203) 272-2743.