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September 20. 2012 8:54PM

Changes planned for North Conway skating rink

NORTH CONWAY — Schouler Park in North Conway Village will be under new management this winter, a change that could provide more supervision and safety.

The rink was formerly managed by the North Conway Outing Club, with help from the North Conway Water Precinct and North Conway Community Center. The town will take over, with the precinct still playing an active role and providing around $6,000 in funding.

The outing club is not organized formally, and there were increased safety and liability concerns last winter when a local woman died after slipping and hitting her head on the ice.

Janice Crawford, executive director of the Mount Washington Valley Chamber of Commerce, representing the Community Celebrations Committee, said without changes the cost would be $16,000, which would include refurbishing the warming hut. John Eastman, Conway recreation director, said they had worked that figure down to around $10,884, leaving them with about a $5,000 “nut to crack.”

The committee, which came together last year to coordinate and fundraise for events such as the holiday parades, fireworks, and the New Year’s Eve celebration, will also raise funds for the skating rink.

The proposal includes increased supervision of the rink. The rink would be open and staffed on Friday, Saturday and Sunday and during the December and February vacation weeks. The hours would be clearly posted, along with the rules.

There was some debate as to how to keep skaters off the ice when it is closed. In the past, people skated when the rink was not open, and as long as the hours and rules were prominently displayed, town manager Earl Sires said it would be similar to public beaches, which post signs advising, when closed, that there is no lifeguard on duty so swim at one’s own risk.

The committee will seek out sponsors, and sell sign space. The selectmen indicated they would like to see the design of any signs.

Without the boards, the signs would be posted on the warming hut.

Conway selectmen also decided that the boards that have surrounded the ice in past years aren’t necessary.

Not using the boards, some of which are in disrepair, will lower the cost of putting the rink in this year, Eastman said.

Eastman said the hut will be turned around so that the entrance is facing the rink, and so that there is a shorter distance from it to the rink.

Hockey will not be allowed at the rink.

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Sara Young-Knox may be reached at syoungknox@newstote.com.


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