Canton Pavilion Ice Rink plans limited opening

A skater talks with her parents through the glass at the Canton Pavilion Ice Rink during a public skate at the facility in 2017. Watertown Daily Times

CANTON — After extensive consideration over the last month, the town and village have decided to begin the process of opening the Canton Pavilion Ice Rink.

The joint recreation committee, comprised of town council members Timothy J. Danehy and Karin S. Blackburn and village trustees Carol S. Pynchon and Elizbeth R. Larrabee, recommended a limited opening based on COVID-19 plans developed by the committee, recreation staff and former Director Jimmi L. Putman.

The committee’s recommendation followed a meeting earlier this month with ice rink stakeholders, including Canton Minor Hockey and the St. Lawrence Figure Skating Club, which will serve as the two pilot groups reserving ice. Both groups are bound by additional health and safety protocols issued by USA Hockey and U.S. Figure Skating.

Public skates and additional league offerings will not be permitted until further notice.

Municipal officials raised questions during a village board meeting last week, and the recreation committee worked to provide answers before the town and village finalized the opening decision.

Prior to the committee’s additional work Tuesday and Wednesday to address questions of Pavilion ventilation, costs, waivers and unforeseen closure, Ms. Pynchon said she had “a lot of ambivalence” about reopening.

By Thursday, she said she felt more secure green lighting the recommendation.

“I feel much better about the decision, more positive about the decision, following some of those confirmations,” she said. “It was the reassurance from that homework and legwork that made us more comfortable moving forward.”

Ms. Sorensen had requested more information about the pavilion’s ventilation system, looked over this week by a local contractor, who is working to calculate specific figures but reported that the system would meet air recycling standards expected of indoor recreation facilities.

With village clerk and treasurer Sally Noble, the committee calculated estimated facility costs, including for utilities and part-time staff, once ice is laid. Based on peak utility usage in previous winters, a high-end marginal cost estimate of $320 per day would be covered by rental rates, Mr. Danehy said, adding that Canton Minor Hockey and St. Lawrence Figure Skating Club have indicated they plan to reserve more than enough weekly ice time.

Both organizations require members to review and sign participation waivers, and Mr. Danehy said the committee’s intent is to provide its own Pavilion waivers that would apply to all rink-goers, should an expanded opening accommodate adult leagues or open skates in the future.

In the absence of a recreation director — Mr. Putman resigned this month — newly hired village Superintendent of Public Works Marty Miller will oversee Pavilion facilities and activities.

The recreation committee’s draft opening and safety plan, which will continue to be a living document, Ms. Pynchon said, outlines face mask, social distancing and check-in screening requirements.

Spectators are prohibited from being inside the Pavilion, and instead can observe outside the facility from streamed video. Locker rooms will be closed, and skaters are expected to arrive dressed, with specific bleacher space provided for lacing and removing skates.

Should Canton Central School District suspend in-person learning, the village and recreation committee plan to consult with the district and the St. Lawrence County Public Health Department about closing the rink.

Ms. Pynchon said the village is waiting on a shipment of Pavilion equipment necessary to make ice, and once the equipment arrives, ice production will begin.

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Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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