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December 18, 2013

Barnum Park rink open for season

By Tiffany Esshaki
C & G Staff Writer

BIRMINGHAM — In case you’re wondering, there is in fact a perk to this cold weather we’ve been experiencing. The ice rink at Barnum Park is up and running and ready for skaters.

According to Parks and Recreation Manager Carrie Laird, the rink was filled Dec. 6, and thanks to the chilly temps, it was ready to skate on by the following Wednesday. Skaters can now glide to their hearts’ content; and that includes hockey players, who can take to the ice for a game between 8 a.m. and 10 a.m., and 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. each day.

The early start to the skating season will likely be welcome to those in the Barnum Park neighborhood, said Birmingham Public Relations Specialist Marianne Gamboa.

“The outdoor ice rink has been a great addition to the community. It provides residents with an opportunity to get outdoors and get some exercise while having fun during the winter months,” she said.

Now that the rink is frozen, the city staff must maintain it.

“We regularly check the rink and provide maintenance as needed,” said Laird in an email. “If it snows, we remove the snow, and many times, the park users beat us to it because they are ready to skate.”

In addition, Birmingham Parks and Rec staff monitors the level of the ice on the rink and adds water when needed if the outdoor temperatures fluctuate and the surface needs to be improved.

This will be the fourth year the rink has been in Birmingham. Efforts to bring the rink to the park were led in large part by resident Janelle Boyce, who sits on the Planning Board and the Joint Library Building Committee.

“We’re always looking for ways to (improve) the parks. So I worked with Lauren (Wood) and kind of got the ball rolling,” said Boyce.

It didn’t take long. Together, with the help of Wood, director of Birmingham Public Services, Boyce managed to collect donations from local organizations to fund the rink in just a few months. Among the contributors were the Birmingham Area YMCA and the Pierce Elementary School Community Education Council, of which, Boyce said, she is co-president.

“(The council) is about outreach with kids in the community. Everything we do with our group impacts kids at school and the community in some way, and this was the perfect opportunity to do just that because the rink benefits the community and the kids who play on it,” she said.

Boyce also gives credit to the city government and staff, which she said works hard to continue to improve Birmingham and make it a great place to live, especially Wood, who “really knows how to make things happen,” she said.

“The rink is just another way to show people the wonderful things we’ve done, particularly in parks like Barnum. We always want to have something going on in the winter, if we can help it,” said Boyce. “It’s great to show everybody what a great job the city has done — and Parks and Rec — to get things where they are. I think if we can get them into our parks, then we can get them into our neighborhoods and our downtown, and it’s great for everyone.”

The Barnum Park ice rink is expected to be open until February, or as late as the weather allows.

For more information, including a list of rink rules, visit www.bhamgov.org.

Barnum Park is located at Pierce and Frank in Birmingham.

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Tiffany Esshaki at tesshaki@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1095.