Mark Hayward's City Matters: They fight to free pond for Manchester skaters
Manpower, that is, if the ice is to lure teenagers into a pick-up game of hockey or nurture the ambitions of a future Charlie White or Meryl Davis.
Thanks to the recent cold temperatures, the freezing is the easy part. Ice measured 15 inches in depth during checks this past weekend, said Greg Paris, one of the two city rec workers assigned to keeping the ice skate-able at Dorrs.
Just as we city dwellers must shovel our driveways and the Highway Department must plow streets, Paris and Dick Manseau must clear the ice. Not just clear the ice, but smooth it out to what skaters expect at JFK Coliseum, or the West Side Arena, or even the Bolshoy Ice Dome in Sochi.
On Wednesday morning, the two expected it would take all day to blow snow off two areas — each about 100 feet long and a little less wide — for skating. But any change in weather, they warned, can put their effort back to ground zero, or in this case, ice zero.
For example, this week's rains could frost the frozen pond with a top coat of ice slick enough to launch a triple axel. Or the rain could be blown by wind, freeze in layers and end up freezing into a crust of dissatisfaction, just in time for upcoming school vacation week.
For years, skating at Dorrs Pond was not a high priority. Sure it was nice, but the weather had to cooperate, and after a pickup truck went through the ice in 2002, the notion of smooth ice lost its sparkle.
"I'd just like to see more affordable, fun recreation for the citizens, a quality of life issue," he said.
He has picked a good winter, a winter of polar vortices, NBA-sized snowbanks and the drama of winter Olympics.
"Pond skating is more of a free-for-all. A rink, you go around in a circle," Larochelle said.
In Keene, where Robinhood Park offers the skating that Pinard wants at Dorrs, crews are on the ice seven days a week, said Keene Parks Director Andrew Bonhannon. "If we don't get on the ice and keep it clean, we could lose it," he said.
But for now, he is content to keep any snow and rain from ruining his ice.
"This is the best," said Paris, who skated with Manchester Regional Youth Hockey for 12 years. "I couldn't ask for anything better to do in the wintertime than making ice."
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