Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

November 11, 2013

Central Park ice-skating rink closing

Kenneth Hart
The Independent

ASHLAND — There will be no ice skating in Ashland’s Central Park this winter — or in any future winters.

Of course, it’s not as if there was a lot of it going on there in the first place.

That’s the principal reason the park’s ice-skating rink won’t open this year and will be closed permanently, Ashland Parks and Recreation Director Sean Murray said.

According to Murray, usage of the rink has declined steadily, to about half the level it had averaged since the facility was opened in 1998.

Part of that, Murray said, had to do with the fact the rink has averaged being open only about 40 days a year the past several years due to both inclement and unseasonably warm weather.

The rink’s normal season was from mid-December to about Feb. 1, Murray said.

Murray said the shutdown of the rink had been recommended by both the Ashland Park Board and the Parks and Recreation Department.

The rink, which was the brainchild of the late Bruce Craft, the city’s longtime volunteer parks director who died in 2009, was one of the only functioning ice rinks in the Tri-State, and, during the height of its popularity, would draw an average of about 3,000 visitors a year from all over the region.

One of ongoing problems with the facility was keeping the leaks repaired in the pipes that held the coolant and refrigerant necessary to keep the ice frozen.

Murray said with the ice rink closing, the public might notice some trees being removed from the area where it was located in the coming days. Those were planted when the rink was opened to provide cover for it, he said.

“There are a lot of trees planted there that are planted so close together and they need to be cleaned out,” he said.

The ice rink’s closure will also give the park board and parks department the opportunity to look at other recreational opportunities that can be made available to the public, ones that can be enjoyed year-round, Murray said.

KENNETH HART can be reached at khart@dailyindependent.com or (606) 326-2654.