Tupper Lake to try ice rink in front of gazebo

TUPPER LAKE – The village will try making an outdoor skating rink in the Municipal Park, but the location was up for debate at a village board meeting last week.

Village Clerk Mary Casagrain told the board that Department of Public Works Superintendent Mike Sparks recommends that the rink be installed next to the park’s gazebo near the lake if the board wants to get a skating rink going this year.

Trustee David “Haji” Maroun, who has led the push for an outdoor skating rink since he started on the board on Dec. 1, said that option might be a problem. When the fire department tried making a skating rink in another part of the park in recent years, it was repeatedly damaged by snowmobilers running through it, even when there was temporary fencing put up around the rink, Maroun said.

Maroun hoped to put a skating rink in the park’s softball diamond, where a wooden fence would keep snowmobilers out.

But trustees Rick Donah and Tom Snyder said the only way to get one going this year would be to create it near the gazebo.

Sparks recommended that the village put temporary siding on the gazebo so it can be used as a heating shack, and a light can be mounted on top of the gazebo to light the rink for night skating. It’s also close to the park’s only bathrooms.

Ron LaScala, who works at Hyde Fuel in Saranac Lake, said his boss Tom Hyde, who helps maintain the outdoor skating rink in Saranac Lake, told him most kids at that rink don’t use the warming hut; they use their parents’ cars to warm up and put their skates on.

Maroun said that in the past, parents wouldn’t let their kids go to outdoor skating rinks in Tupper Lake that didn’t have nearby warming huts, because they wanted to drop the kids off there, and it was too cold to leave them alone.

Trustee Leon LeBlanc said the village can use the gazebo area this year, then get started on it early next winter so it can be where Maroun wants it.

Village police Chief Tom Fee asked if trustees plan to post an attendant at the skating rink. LeBlanc said there is money left over from the DPW’s summer help, so that money might be used to pay an attendant.

Snyder said the village should get the rink going, then worry about things like an attendant.