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Ice Rinks at Gilbert Park: Two This Year, Neither Ready

After a winter in which the park saw no skating, the Park District of La Grange has added a dedicated hockey rink, but the weather prognosis continues to be poor.

Although the Park District of La Grange has expanded its Gilbert Park ice-skating service to two rinks this year, neither is yet operational—and it appear that neither will be anytime soon, either.

“Neither of them are frozen solid, so neither of them are open,” said the Park District’s Superintendent of Facilities Chris Finn. “It’s all dependent on the weather. We need several nights and days of below freezing for it to freeze completely, and they have to be 100 percent frozen.” 

Finn said that the Park District added the second rink due to popular demand and the need for safety. The larger east rink will be for general skating, while the smaller west rink closer to Gilbert Avenue is exclusively for hockey, keeping pucks and sticks far away from non-players on the ice. (An orange snow-fence separates the two rinks.)

However, the District is coming off of a 2011-2012 winter so warm that they never even put in the rink liners or filled them with water, let alone had a working rink.

And the prognosis for the rest of the first half of January is nearly as poor. According to The Weather Channel, La Grange has a forecasted high at or above freezing every day between now and Jan. 12—with Jan. 9 even predicted to hit a high of 45 degrees. 

Regardless, Finn said the Park District remains committed to the Gilbert Park program, one of the few outdoor ice-skating options available to La Grange- and Western Springs-area residents. 

“We still want to provide this activity for the public and for the residents of town,” Finn said. 

As a side note, the La Grange Police Department has already received multiple complaints about teens and others playing on the ice before the rinks are officially open.

Ben January 06, 2013 at 12:57 AM
Darren, thanks for keeping us updated on our local park and specifically the rink. I think it would be really helpful in stories like this at least to mention the larger context of climate change, and perhaps to provide a scientific link to help contextualize local impacts. For example: http://climate.nasa.gov/key_indicators There are many people who still think that our hotter seasons are simply random events that don't have wider consequences and costs. In the meantime, looking forward to the ice skating when it's possible again!
Darren McRoy January 06, 2013 at 06:47 AM
Thanks, Ben. I'm no climatologist; I don't have any qualifications to say whether or not this is part of a larger global trend. If that's what people want to extrapolate--or if there's a local climatologist who wants to weigh in--that'd be a different story!
Ben January 06, 2013 at 07:08 AM
Here's a relevant quote from a climatologist for articles like this, Darren: "2012 has been the warmest calendar year on record for the continental U.S. according to NCDC data going back to 1895." The data and quote is here: http://www.wunderground.com/blog/weatherhistorian/comment.html?entrynum=112 And here's a user-friendly short video from the National Science Foundation on how our thawed ice rinks are related to the larger global trend: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=MW3b8jSX7ec If we want to understand our melting local ice rinks, we need this sort of information--and the Patch is one of the few places we can get that interesting and beneficial information.

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