Outdoor ice rink closes before it can open


Courtesy of Mike Gallagher

The campus ice rink was set to open on Jan. 27, but snow from a mild storm created too much slush and prevented the opening from happening. Members of Facilities, pictured here, tried using a heated pressure washer to smooth the ice but it did not work out.

Amanda Plasse, Herald Reporter

Administration, faculty and staff at Roger Williams University have been working hard to come up with creative and safe recreational activities for students during this pandemic, which is what sparked the ideas for the disc golf course in the fall and an ice rink for the winter. The rink, originally located on the tennis courts, was scheduled to open on Jan. 27 but inclement weather prevented the opening from happening.

Mike Gallagher, Associate Director of Athletics for Recreational Services and Facilities, said the snow from a mild storm on Jan. 26 led to an abundance of water and slush as the rink had not frozen completely yet. Though Facilities tried using a heated power washer to smooth out the ice, Gallagher said the rink was very uneven and that it would freeze in an unusable form.

The university is not sure as to when or even if the rink will open. Fortunately, there is still a possibility that it can be up and running sometime this semester. If it does open, it will be open from 12 p.m. to 9 p.m. on weekdays, and 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. on weekends.

For those anxious to get out and skate, there is some good news.

“If this winter proves successful and students use the rink, the university will happily sponsor the rink in future years,” said Vice President of Student Life Dr. John King.

Students were excited to have an ice rink on campus but saddened to hear it might not be opening.

“I was interested in it for sure! I know all my friends brought skates, so I was excited and it seemed safe and fun. It was a great idea. Maybe next year,” said Eileen Mullen.

“When I first found out about the ice rink, I texted my friend and she was equally as excited so we both brought our skates and we’re a little bit disappointed that they might not be able to get it up and running this winter,” said Ashley Haryasz.

Gallagher initially presented the idea of an ice rink to King and William Seymour, Assistant Vice President of Facilities and Capital Projects, and said they both loved it.

“I’ve seen several backyard rinks [and] I thought, why not here, it’s New England? It sounded like a fun idea and a great way to have outdoor recreation,” Gallagher said.

A lot of work was put into this project, starting with the location.

“Our first choice was the North Campus basketball courts. Although it looks flat, there is actually over a foot of grade change from one side to the other. The location finally selected, at the tennis court, had a 5-inch change in elevation side to side and that was manageable. The tennis court location was also proximate to several residence halls, had lights, parking and seating,” Seymour said.

Another decision that had to be made was how they were going to go about building the rink. Originally, Gallagher suggested they purchase a kit, but considering Seymour and Facilities built the disc golf course last semester, they felt they could handle the challenge.

If the ice rink does open this winter, students will need to bring their own skates and sign-up for a reservation time on Hawk Link. The maximum number of skaters allowed at a time is 25 in order to comply with COVID-19 guidelines.