A warming shack built by Nolan Murphy sits next to the rink for skaters to take a rest. There is also a tub of donated skates for those who don’t have any to wear. ISLANDER PHOTOS BY SARAH HINCKLEY

Ice rink takes a village

TREMONT — It takes a village and cold temperatures to get an ice rink ready for a season of skating.


Residents turned out on a recent Sunday morning to assist Tremont Recreation Board member Jeff Watson to lay out the liner and get water into the rink. Colder temperatures are not as predictable and may take awhile to show up and do their part.

“Don’t look at daytime temperature, it’s the night,” said Watson. He explained two weeks of nights with temperatures below freezing is the key to a solid rink.

Located just a bit farther down Harbor Drive from the town office on town property, the rink is set up. Last year, it wasn’t until January that folks got to take a spin around the ice. The recreation board attempted to set up the rink in 2015 but was not successful due to a warm winter and a clear liner that not only leaked, but also absorbed sunlight.

Watson began setting the outer rink pieces at the beginning of November but waited for the weather to take a turn before laying down the inner liner and adding water. There is a well located near the rink where town water can be pumped into the space. Watson had to leave a hose attached to the well running for three days last winter and still didn’t have enough water until the fire department lent support with its tanker truck.

About 18,000 gallons of water filled the rink last season, which Watson said was too much. This year, he is dialing that back to just over 10,000 to see if the ice will stick around more consistently.

“I don’t want to fill it as much as I did last year,” he said. “It didn’t freeze as well.”

This year’s rink is a bit smaller than last year’s. Using the extra ground space, Watson said the recreation board is hoping to have room to build a bonfire on occasion.

A warming shack built by Nolan Murphy sits next to the rink for skaters to take a rest. There is also a tub of donated skates for those who don’t have any to wear. Donations of more skates are welcome, Watson said.

Prior to the liner being put in place, town employees graded the ground. Volunteers pulled up some wily weeds to avoid a puncture.

“We had a lot of issues with the ground here,” said Watson. “We put the old liner down first. Ideal thing would be a grass area. This ground’s not the greatest.”

Once the liner was secure, Fire Engine 2, driven by Chief Keith Higgins, backed up and unloaded more than 3,000 gallons of water. He made two trips to Seal Cove Pond to fill the 3,600 gallon tanker. Those 7,200 gallons combined with the 3,200 already in the truck made for a solid start of 10,600 gallons in the rink to create a first layer of ice.

Once the temperature drops enough to create a rink, there is skating during the day and also at night with the aid of a light. A sign used last year that stated when the rink was open or closed has gone missing.

Watson hopes to get another sign so that people will only use the rink when it is safe to do so.

There is ice-clearing equipment ready to go when the time is right, even if there are a few inches of snow on the top.

“Usually after we get it snow-blowed there are people here waiting to get on it,” said Watson. “Obviously, Chris’s Pond [in Southwest Harbor] is a great place to skate, but some kids just can’t get over there.”

Sarah Hinckley

Sarah Hinckley

Former Islander reporter Sarah Hinckley covered the towns of Southwest Harbor, Tremont and neighboring islands.

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