The J.L. Scott McLean Outdoor Recreation Pad is only couple days away from opening.
“Yes, it’s pretty exciting to actually see it,” said Jane Ann McLean, co-chair of the J.L. Scott McLean Legacy Fund committee, which includes co-chair Walter Kleer and committee members Scott Cole, Scott Baird and Derek Barnard.
When the blue construction fencing surrounding the outdoor rec pad, located next to the Tillsonburg Community Centre, comes down on Friday… it will be open.
The ice-making process began Monday, Jan. 14 and continued most of last week. You won’t notice it, but it’s actually a series of thin layers of ice.
“They have to build it in thin layers to get quality layers, so it’s both safe and usable,” said Geoff Cork, PK Construction Inc.
Indoor ice-making involves the application of ‘mist’ but with quicker freezing outdoors, Cork noted Town staff initially flooded the rink with a hose, then used the Zamboni for a consistent spread.
“Once they get it up to a minimum thickness they want, then they grind the surface to make it flatter, taking out ridges and valleys.”
One of the final requirements was the installation of signage, and Town staff have indicated temporary signs will be in place.
“Once the signage is complete the construction fencing can come down,” said Cork.
And on that day – expected to be Friday, Jan. 25 – people will be able to use the 60-foot by 120-foot rink for recreational skating and recreational hockey.
Some things to keep in mind if you plan to use the J.L. Scott McLean Outdoor Recreation Pad. It’s free. It’s outdoors. It’s unsupervised. It will not be maintained like an indoor rink. If it snows, you’re welcome to shovel it.
Ideally, arena staff plan to clean the ice a couple times a day, possibly more on weekends. But there are no guarantees and there will be times when shovelling is required.
“It’s a safer facility than Lake Lisgar, but it should be treated similar to Lake Lisgar,” said Cork. “There is some onus on the user to maintain the ice if there is a snow event.”
That means if you plan to use the outdoor rec pad during the winter months, bring your skates, helmet… and shovel.
Weather is expected to impact day-to-day operations, but maybe not how you’d think.
“The air temperature is not as much of a concern as the sun,” said Cork.
Staff from the NHL outdoor games, through Colin Campbell’s connections, consulted with Cork, arena staff and the committee in December, making some suggestions, which resulted in changing the colour of the kickplate, as well as sharing advice on making and maintaining outdoor ice.
“The kickplate on the boards is all white,” said Cork. “It was going to be yellow, but what happens is the sun absorbs that heat on the yellow plastic and reflects that down on the ice, and it makes the edge soft. They said you’ll do better if that changed to white.”
“They had some interesting stories talking about the different places they’ve had to try to make ice, and the weather conditions,” said McLean.
There will be different time slots for different age groups, based on the honour system, and they will be posted on site. Examples might be ‘Hockey for 10-and-under’, ‘Hockey for 11-and-older’, Family Skating, and Open Ice.
Opportunities might be available for mixed usage, if skaters use part of the ice and hockey players another part, but it would depend on numbers and require cooperation from the users.
Lights have been installed at the recreation pad allowing early evening usage.
FAMILY DAY GRAND OPENING
The committee plans to have an official opening on the Family Day weekend.
In total, there have been at least 150 financial donors to the outdoor recreation pad project, and the fundraising is ongoing. More funds are needed to complete all the ‘bells and whistles’ in the spring/summer.
In addition, numerous volunteers have contributed to the construction of the outdoor pad. And about 35 companies were involved, from consulting to construction.
“And this whole committee has been invaluable,” said Cork.