NORWICH — The skating rink in Norwich, also known as the Robert Mason Recreation Center after the former Youth Bureau Director, is opening its doors for ice skating this winter season.
After opening, hours at the facility will be from 4 to 9 p.m. on Monday through Friday, and noon to 9 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. Ice skating and ice skate rentals are completely free of charge. Skates are available in toddler sizes and up.
Current Youth Bureau Director Anthony Testani said the City of Norwich Department of Public Works went to the center on Monday to flood the rink with six inches of water. As long as the weather stays cold, it could be frozen and ready to skate on as soon as this weekend.
“We’ll wait for it to get a good freeze. They put six inches, so that takes a while,” said Testani. “It takes three to four days for it to freeze solid and give us a good surface to ice skate on.”
Ice skating at the center is entirely dependent on the weather, Testani said. It has to get and stay cold enough outside for the ice to freeze and stay frozen. Due to weather patterns in previous winters, Testani said there have been years where the rink was unable to be opened at all.
Additionally, just a single day of warmer temperatures could soften the ice, which would force the facility to close up until it refreezes.
“Some years we’ve never opened, other years we’ve opened in early December. So it’s all weather dependent,” he explained. “I mean, if we get three days of 40 degree weather, or two days, or one day actually, the surface of the ice becomes a little slushy and whatnot and that's not good for skating. So you have to close it and let it freeze again.”
“As long as the weather stays below freezing, once it’s frozen solid we’re good to go for as long as it stays below freezing,” he added.
Luckily, it looks as though the ice skating rink will be open for at least a few weeks this winter. Testani said he took a look at the weather forecast, and the Norwich area has predicted low temperatures for the rest of January.
“I just looked, Thursday’s 34 [degrees], but after that we go out to the end of the month with temperatures in the 20s. So we should be good for a while,” he said. “We’ll be open Monday through Friday, 4 to 9 [p.m.], and Saturdays and Sundays from 12 to 9 [p.m.]. It is free to use, and we have skates there that are available from toddlers on up.”
COVID-19 concerns have also kept the rink shuttered for the past year. While the facility will be reopening once more, Testani said all current COVID-19 guidelines will be mandatory at the facility. This includes wearing a mask when going inside the building, and maintaining adequate social distancing while on the ice.
“You will be required to wear a mask in the building and the normal COVID protocols will be followed,” said Testani. “As far as outside, I don’t believe a mask is required at this point.”
The most recent masking guidelines from the Center for Disease Control (CDC), at cdc.gov/coronavirus, list outdoor activities as “safer,” and recommend that “if you can’t stay at least six feet apart from people who don’t live with you, wear your mask.”
The City of Norwich Youth Bureau is also looking to fill an attendant position at the ice skating rink. The position is listed as part time, 10 to 15 hours per week, and pays $12.81 an hour.
“Work involves checking equipment in and out for skaters at the facility, cleaning the facility, ensuring the ice is safe to skate on, [and] making announcements. Hours are 10 to 15 per week, when facility is open,” read the job listing.
Those interested in applying can do so on the City of Norwich Youth Bureau Facebook page.