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Citizen-backed Ferrisburgh rink ready to go

FERRISBURGH — Only a pending delivery and the remote possibility of warm weather remain as hurdles for a planned skating rink next to Ferrisburgh Central School.
Given that it is late December and rink organizer Tim Bicknell said a needed plastic liner should arrive any day, residents from Ferrisburgh and neighboring towns with any luck should be able to lace up their skates for the town’s newest recreation option sometime next week.
Plywood boards already surround a 90-foot-by-45-foot surface, and a former softball dugout will serve as a skate-changing shelter.
“We really just need some freezing weather,” Bicknell said. “It’s completely set to go.”
The site, to the southwest of the school, once housed the Ferrisburgh highway department’s sand and salt pile. Town officials agreed to move the pile across the road to make room for the rink, which organizers eventually hope to cover — and make into a year-round recreation center.
Volunteers will be able to maintain the ice — possibly with a three-foot-wide, rake-like tool that spreads water and smooths the surface, as well as hoses and the elementary school’s snow-blower — and the Ferrisburgh Volunteer Fire Department stands ready to fill the plastic liner for the first time when it arrives.
In the long run, organizers hope to fundraise for a 110-foot-by-60-foot pavilion roof to cover the rink, but group member Annie Cohn said elbow grease will be needed for at least one winter.
“This year we’re going to figure out how we’re going to work out volunteer shoveling,” Cohn said.
The group envisions the site — which is both easily accessible and unusually level — as a community recreation center. Plans call for a tennis/basketball court on the rink surface in the summer, with walking paths linking it to surrounding neighborhoods. The school’s soccer field and playground are also nearby.
“What we’d like to do is turn that whole area into a community center where anyone can come, use the playground, use the walking paths, use the soccer field and use this facility year-round,” Bicknell said. “We can have it as a place where community groups could do fundraisers, or possibly even music at some point. We’d like it to be used by the community as much as possible.”
The idea for the rink first surfaced several years ago and grew in part out of a major physical education grant that was awarded to Addison Northwest Supervisory Union. Ferrisburgh Central School (FCS) applied for and was granted funds to pay for skates for its physical education students from that grant, and students will put those skates to use on the rink.
But FCS Principal JoAnn Taft-Blakely said the $800 cost of the rink — not including volunteer labor and in-kind donations — has been borne by fundraising efforts. Bicknell said the fundraising effort for the roof will probably begin in the spring, and he hopes that it will bear fruit no later than the winter of 2013.
“I think we can do it all in one year,” he said.
Bicknell emphasized that the rink will be open not only to Ferrisburgh residents.
“It’s Vergennes and Addison and Charlotte and anybody who wants to use it,” he said.
Cohn said group members are trying to dream about all the possibilities for the site, including light fixtures.
“That would be sweet,” she said. “We all have our childhood memories of skating under the lights.”
Andy Kirkaldy may be reached at andyk@addisonindependent.com.

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