Mead Park, February 18, 2015. Credit: Terry Dinan
South School 4th Graders Cooper Dinan (l) and Andrew Nolan (r) test the ice at Mead Park, February 18, 2015. Credit: Terry Dinan
Town parks officials plan on Wednesday afternoon opened Mead Pond for ice skating, restoring a longstanding town tradition that’s been absent for six years.
With ice more than 10 inches thick on the pond, the Department of Public Works went over the surface with a snowplow late in the morning, blew extra snow off of the ice around lunchtime and then opened the pond, keeping it going under lights through 10 p.m., Parks Superintendent John Howe. The DPW will check ice thickness each day, he said.
Recreation Director Steve Benko said the difficulty in the past has been that sustained cold such as New Canaan has seen these past few weeks has been interspersed with rainy or warmer days.
“We never get a chance to get it done, but it seems now like we have a little time,” Benko said. “It’s hard to put a piece of equipment on it [to clear the snow]. The sidewalk tractor is too heavy for the ice, but John has a snowblower for riding lawnmowers and it’s light enough to put safely on the ice. This is the first winter that we’ve had that piece of equipment and enough ice to support it.”
The last time the town had skating was at Mead during the winter of 2008-09, when New Canaan had 26 days of skating from Jan. 8 to Feb. 12, Howe has said.
It used to be a more frequent pastime.
About 10 or 12 years ago, New Canaan changed insurers, and that with the new policy came a new standard: The ponds must be six inches thick with ice, rather than the previous four inches, in order to allow public skating. The parks crew regularly checks the ice for thickness with an electric drill, starting at the edge and then moving in.
It’s more difficult to get sufficiently thick ice for skating at Mill Pond, which has faster-moving water beneath it as part of the Fivemile River.
Wednesday’s opening of Mead Pond for ice skating coincides nicely with February break in New Canaan.
Town officials will check the ice daily to ensure safety, and NewCanaanite.com will post updates on Facebook as they come in.