Lakeside area residents push to reopen pond skating

Until a couple years ago, you could see skaters and hockey players on the pond at Lakeside Park. Now it's sitting empty, and residents are calling for the ice rink to reopen.

Posted: Dec 15, 2017 6:17 PM

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WFFT)- Just a couple years ago if you came to the pond at Lakeside Park, you'd see kids skating and playing hockey. Now, it's sitting empty. 

Molly Papier said she grew up on the pond. 

"My mother grew up skating there, our neighbors, their mother grew up skating there, and fathers. [And] my brothers learned how to play hockey there," Papier said. 

Papier is heading the project to open the pond again for the two coldest weeks in January. After moving back to Fort Wayne and seeing the pond closed, she took to the neighborhood. She passed out surveys and gained support. 

"By doing that, I discovered that really everybody cared, with some really random exceptions, and those were the people that didn't even know you could skate there," she said. 

She presented her proposal to the Parks Board at Thursday's meeting along with a video of lifetime skater and resident, Marney Shaffer, and got to the bottom of why the ice rink was closed. 

"One was a safety issue, and the basic issue was because it was never open. The temperature never provided opportunities," said Al Moll, Director of Parks and Recreation. 

Moll said people may have still skated, but they weren't supposed to because of the risk of falling through. 

"The problem is that what happens when it snows is it may freeze a layer, an inch or two. Then you get snow on top of it, then it freezes on top of that, and that really limits the strength and structure of the ice," Moll said. 

Papier and other neighbors said they have several volunteers willing to maintain the snow during the open period. 

"If we can as a neighborhood core of volunteers, be able to go out and keep the ice clean, I think that will also help the underlying issue of stability," said Susan Imler, a Lakeside resident. 

For now, kids in the neighborhood are skating at a smaller rink at the basketball court, waiting for the green light to come on at the pond.

The board said they are considering the proposal to skate on Lakeside Pond again. We should have an answer after the first of the year.

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