Fraser ice rink gets new refrigeration system, extends season
FRASER — This season Fraser’s hockey players and ice skaters won’t be stopped by warming temperatures and melting ice at its rink thanks to a new refrigeration system at the Icebox.
As well as the new refrigeration system, the Icebox, which opened Nov. 28 for the season, is now housed in a new building that features a meeting room, a referee’s locker room and additional storage.
The upgrades are the result of around three years of fundraising and community efforts to improve the ice rink and extend the season.
With the new system, Austin DeGarmo, parks and athletics manager for the Fraser Valley Sports Complex, said the rink is hoping to match the ski season schedule, even opening as early as late October and closing in April.
Before the refrigeration system was installed, the ice rink was made using natural ice, which was weather dependant. Now, the system ensures that the rink can stay open all season even when the weather isn’t cooperating.
“In the past, with it being weather dependent, we were always keeping our fingers crossed for cold weather, but this year, it’s kind of the opposite, we want it to warm up,” DeGarmo said. “If we get in the mid-forties to high forties, the ice is going to be perfect with this compressor.”
With the upgrades, DeGarmo said they hope this will be a huge improvement for the teams who use the ice rink and help meet the demand for the growing number of ice rink users. This spring they are even hoping to host a youth hockey playoff game.
“There’s been many years when we haven’t been able to finish an adult hockey season,” he said. “And more importantly, our kids had to travel in the early season either to Breckenridge or to Denver for practice. (…) Our kids program is just growing, we have more and more interest every year in that.”
Scott Ledin, director of parks, recreation and golf for the Fraser Valley Metropolitan Recreation District, said the community played a huge role in making the upgrades happen, particularly helping raise money and donating for the approximately $700,000 refrigeration project.
Much of the project was funded using a $200,000 Colorado Department of Local Affairs grant, money from the towns of Winter Park and Fraser, as well as the county, the Grand Foundation and the Fraser Valley Recreation Foundation.
Private donors also contributed around $61,000, the Fraser Valley Hockey Association contributed $70,000 and the Colorado Amatuer Hockey Association donated $15,000. Ledin estimates that in-kind donations added up to around $75,000 and donated materials are valued at about $10,000.
“It was very much a grassroots effort,” Ledin said. “This was part of the project all along and we used that in our grant writing to speak to the fact that we had community members that were willing to help and assist along the way.”
If the rink continues to see growth in users and community support, Ledin said the system has the capabilities to keep the Icebox open year round, but first they want to focus on providing space for the youth hockey program and adult league.
More information on when the rink is open for public skating, as well as the hockey league schedules, is available at the Fraser Valley Metropolitan Recreation District website.
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Members of the Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission as well as the public are invited to attend CPW’s second online educational session related to wolf reintroduction efforts 6-8 p.m. Thursday.