MILFORD — Though the sound of blades scraping against the ice on the rink at Shepard Park seems like a distant memory, winter will soon be here again and preparations are under way to build a warming hut at the rink.
The temporary skating rink, which is assembled each year on a level stretch of the field at Shepard Park, has been a focus for the town’s recreation department for several years, said Director Nicole Banks.
“The first year we put in the rink and most all of the equipment for maintaining the ice; the second year we put permanent overhead lighting in and got a modified lawn tractor with ice shaving blades,” Banks said.
Last year, the department hired a contractor to level the field, which eliminated shallow spots in the rink. This year, a warming hut will help nonskaters or those taking a break keep the cold at bay.
The department is constructing a 16-by-32 building near the rink. Part of the building will serve as a storage shed and the other part will be the warming hut.
“The warming hut portion has large Plexiglas viewing windows and a covered front porch,” said Banks. “The building will house all of the equipment to maintain the rink. It will also be able to hold the liner and rink framing in the off season.”
Though it’s only a temporary rink, Shepard Park has become a popular spot in the winter, said Banks.
“The past two years we have had ice skating lessons and hockey lessons as a recreation program that has run at capacity,” she said. “We have a local resident that coaches hockey who volunteered his time as well as many of the players on his team to do the instruction.”
The ice clearing and maintenance of the entire area is done by MICE (Milford Ice), a volunteer team that gathers to ensure the rink can be used as much as possible.
“They are so efficient I saw someone complain on Facebook that the rink should not be such a high priority when the town sidewalks still needed some work,” Banks said. “We explained that the volunteers were out first thing so that kids could skate during when school is canceled.”
The project, funded by a trust for Shepard Park and not through taxes, will begin this fall. The building is expected to be finished by the end of November.