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Ashland won't build full-size ice rink

The seasonal ice rink next to Lithia Park will not be expanded to a full-sized rink as skating and hockey enthusiasts had hoped.

Ashland's Parks and Recreation Commission decided Monday night to seek a $400,000 state grant to keep the rink about the same size, but to embed ice-making coils in concrete. Parks workers have struggled for the past few years to lay out aging, above-ground coils that form the ice for the rink. The rink occupies a parking lot during the winter.

Each year, the parks department spends about $10,000 to set up and tear down the Darex Family Ice Rink.

The parks and recreation department has $94,000 for improvements to the ice rink and will need grant funds to make the changes.

Parks Director Don Robertson said the state parks department has $5 million in lottery funds to award for projects throughout Oregon.

The current rink measures 63 by 120 feet. It could be expanded to about 70 by 120 feet, Robertson said. Parks commissioners voted to have the embedded coils installed in a way that would make it as easy as possible to enlarge the rink in the future.

Many skaters and hockey players had hoped the rink could be expanded to regulation size, which is 85 feet by 185 feet, either at the Lithia Park site or on Southern Oregon University land.

Enlarging the rink to regulation size in the Lithia Park parking lot would have cost about $650,000, while building a full-size rink at SOU would have cost more than $1 million.

— Ashland Daily Tidings