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Ferrisburgh ice rink, recreation center project gaining momentum

FERRISBURGH — After about three years and $37,000 of fundraising, the Ferrisburgh recreation facility is ready for a major step forward.
Already, the volunteer committee has created a 45-by-90-foot skating rink that the students from the nearby Ferrisburgh Central School have used on a regular basis over the past couple winters, as have many local residents.
From early January to mid-March, members of an FCS physical education class learned how to skate on the rink, older students skated during recess, and the school used the rink as the focus of a winter carnival with skating, Nordic skiing, snow-shoeing and sledding.
Committee member Martha Davis said many children and families used the rink during afternoons and weekends, and hockey players often skated weekends and afternoons.
“It was very busy,” Davis said.
But much of that $37,000 investment cannot be seen because it has been spent in digging out uncooperative clay soil on the Little Chicago Road site across from the town garage and replacing it with layers of stone and a drainage system that created a permanent, level base for the rink — and eventually basketball courts.
“There was a lot of site work done. We took out many, many truck loads of clay,” said Davis. “We had to take out so much clay and put so much material in we spent all our money.”
That money — which has also funded a 200-square-foot warming hut that has been built offsite and just has to be assembled — has come exclusively from about 100 individual donations and grants from the state, the central school Parent Teacher Organization and charitable foundations.
The committee first approached the Ferrisburgh selectboard in 2011 about developing the town-owned site for recreation, but given rising taxes and the economic climate its members pledged not to ask for taxpayer funding.
“The people of the town really want a facility to do this, but nobody is willing to ask for tax money right now,” Davis said. “Everyone is still trying to dig out of the recession.”
This past year, volunteers used temporary sidewalls and a plastic liner to hold water over the rink’s earthen base. The next logical step is a permanent, painted asphalt liner, Davis said, flanked by between two and six basketball hoops.
Ideally, the committee would add a small snow blower to help shovelers clear the ice, plus solar-powered lighting fixtures around the rink to enhance nighttime use.
The costs would vary depending on how the committee approaches the project. Davis said a 60-by-100-foot liner, with curbing to retain water, will cost around $10,000.
Painting the liner — needed to reflect sunlight and prevent ice melt — could be done on a more long-term basis by using the vehicular paint that is standard in striping parking lots at a cost of around $5,000. Spraying on regular paint, which would only last a year or two, would cost $500, Davis said.
The committee would like six hoops, one at either end and two on either side lined up opposite each other, but David said “playground-grade” hoops cost about $1,000 each, installed, and two might be maximum, at least to start.
The lights and small snow blower might add $500 each to the tab, meaning at least $13,500 with the cheap painting option and two hoops. Davis said she would like to see at least $14,000 to create a little wiggle room.
Even though just the base of the warming hut building is now on site, no more funds are needed for a structure that will offer equipment storage as well as skate-changing space. The walls are already built, and windows, doors and roofing have already either been purchased or donated. Davis said everything just needs to be packed up, brought to the site and pieced together, work that would have been done already if the weather had cooperated.
“It just got too cold and too snowy and too wintry,” she said.
FUNDRAISING PLAN
The committee has plans for fundraisers, including a Summer Solstice Run, and is actively seeking donations and grants. Checks may be earmarked for the Ferrisburgh Recreation Facility and dropped off at or mailed to Ferrisburgh Town Offices, P.O. Box 6, Ferrisburgh, VT 05456.
Davis said the volunteer committee is profoundly grateful to the many businesses that have donated time, expertise and equipment to the cause, and published letters of thanks are planned.
Meanwhile, the core of 15 residents who have done most of the volunteer work would love helping hands just as much as checks.
“We are always looking for more help,” said Davis, who can be reached at marthand@gmavt.net. She also noted that “Ferrisburgh Skating Rink” has a Facebook page.
Down the road, committee members still hope for a roof over the rink and hoop courts to allow for all-weather use.
That’s still in the big dream,” Davis said. “That’s another $40,000.”
Andy Kirkaldy may be reached at andyk@addisonindependent.com.

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