Anticipating some wintry weather to come, volunteers of the Friends of Legion Way began their annual task of filling the ice rink on Legion Way in Barrington on Friday.
“We need a few days and nights below freezing. Maybe by next week there’ll be skating,” said TR Rimoshytus, a resident who spearheads the group.
After laying dormant for many years, the town owned skating rink was brought back to life by a group of residents who wanted their kids to enjoy the same thing they had growing up.
“When we were kids, we never knew who took care of this place,” said Joe Lombardi, a Barrington resident and one of several volunteers who maintain the rink.
Mr. Lombardi, a Barrington contractor, drove his Bobcat through the four inches of water to remove debris that had collected on the bottom over the year.
“Now we’re the guys that, when you show up, it’s all ready to skate,” Mr. Lombardi said.
It is believed that the rink was originally constructed in the 1950s and saw on and off use through the years. In 2009 the rink was revived and the non-profit group Friends of Legion Way was incorporated.
“We put in railings, then in 2010 the lights were added,” said Mr. Rimoshytus. “The ultimate goal is to repair the rink.”
The group is preparing to launch into a fundraising effort in an attempt to raise between $80,000 and $100,000 to repair the asphalt surface and paint it a light reflecting color to keep the ice from melting. The manmade rink is a safe option for children who would otherwise be tempted to skate on the adjacent Brickyard Pond. Other bodies of water, such as Volpe Pond, Echo Lake and Woods Pond have been closed to skating due to the risk of falling through the ice.
The volunteers use a pump to draw water from Brickyard Pond to the rink, often staying long after skaters have left for the night, spraying a thin coat of water on the ice surface so it is ready for use the next day.
Eventually, the volunteers said, they would like to add boards to make a hockey rink so that recreational skaters and hockey players would have their own space to play.
So far, the rink has been revived and maintained solely through volunteers and donated time, money and materials. Over the winter, the Friends of Legion Way are planning to send letters of solicitation to area businesses asking them to support the ongoing effort. In the meantime, the volunteers will continue to clear the surface, stack the firewood for the fireplace and cart in hot chocolate for anyone who wants to warm up after skating, just like Mr. Rimoshytus, Mr. Lombardi and other volunteers did when they were kids.
“When you see 50 or 60 kids skating and playing hockey here, it makes it all worthwhile,” Mr. Lombardi said.