October 6, 2008

Ice Rink’s Renovation, Reopening Thrills Cottonwood Heights Area

By Rebecca Palmer Deseret News

COTTONWOOD HEIGHTS -- Residents here will glide, dip, swizzle and spin on brand new ice today at the grand reopening of the Cottonwood Heights Recreation Center Ice Arena.

The rink has been closed over the summer for a complete renovation that added a party room, expanded the rink into an Olympic-size facility and improved energy efficiency of the refrigeration system.

The renovation also smoothed out bumps and did away with a wet spot that plagued skaters in the 25-year-old center.

"It will be great," said 13-year-old Jessie Brown, who started figure skating at the rink at the age of 5. "We won't fall anymore. The old arena was in bad shape."

The new ice is an inch-and-a-half thick and sits atop 317 cubic yards of concrete, cooled to 16 degrees Fahrenheit. The concrete was cured for two weeks and levelled to 1/16th of an inch, said Cottonwood Heights Recreation Center director Mike Peterson.

Beneath the concrete, refrigeration coils sit atop a level of insulation that covers a series of heating coils.

The heat keeps the underground soil from freezing and buckling, said Patti Hansen, program manager for the recreation center. The energy created by cooling the ice is transferred to the center's four indoor pools to save on energy costs.

Also helping with the power bill are insulated windows and a special ceiling that deflects the sun's heat. However, a panel of windows on the rink's north side still provides a stunning panoramic view of pine trees and mountain peaks.

The state-of-the-art system was paid for with a $3.6 million grant from the Salt Lake County Zoo, Arts and Parks program. ZAP funding was also used to build a $6.8 million ice rink in Murray.

Thanks to that rink, Cottonwood Heights skaters have had a place to practice during the renovation, Hansen said.

Those skaters will be welcomed home today with a grand opening party featuring prizes, games and two hours of free skating and skate rentals, beginning at 7:30 p.m. Free skating will also be offered Friday from 7 to 9 p.m.

The rink can hold up to 400 people, Peterson said.

In addition to the new ice, the looks of the rink have been improved. New paint and new carpeting on the balcony are the backdrop for several ceiling banners featuring local figure skaters and hockey players.

Metal tape has also been layered into the ice to promote the city of Cottonwood Heights and the Cottonwood Heights Figure Skating Club, which was recently forced to hold its Oktoberfest competition in Park City.

Club president Sandy Fishler is thrilled about the rink remodel. Her club was the second skating club organized in Utah and now includes 140 members at all skill levels, she said.

With the larger, smoother ice, skaters will now get better practice time and the group will be able to host larger competitions, she said.

In addition to serving highly dedicated figure-skating athletes, the ice is great for people who just want to exercise or have fun, Fishler said.

The recreation center at 2700 E. 7500 South hosts "stroking" sessions, which allow adults to skate around the rink as fast as they can for aerobic exercise. The sport is more fun, more creative and has less negative impacts on the joints than jogging, she said.

The recreation center also offers lessons, starting at $45 a season for group lessons. The "Learn-to-Skate" program teaches about 500 skaters of all ages each year, Peterson said.

During the week, students from Olympus Junior High School use the rink during their P.E. classes. They are allowed to skate instead of swim if their grades are high enough, Brown said.

Public skating is allowed from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

Prices range from $5.50-$7, including skate rental. For those who live in the Cottonwood Heights Special Service District, whose residents have agreed to pay for the recreation center through property taxes, skating is free.

For more information, visit cottonwoodheights.com.

E-mail: [email protected]

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