The variety of parks and trails in the city of Waukee makes it easy for residents to get out and about during the warmer weather months. It’s not so easy to continue one’s outdoor activities in the winter, when cold and snow can make it much less appealing to be outside. But for the second year in a row, area residents can take advantage of a great opportunity for outdoor winter activity at Centennial Park Ice Rink in Waukee.
According to Matt Jermier, Parks & Recreation Director for the City of Waukee, the city was approached a couple of years ago by the Iowa Wild and Wells Fargo to partner on an ice rink in the community. This partnership announced its first community rink in Raccoon River Park in West Des Moines in 2016. With the addition of the rink in Waukee, as well as another in Ankeny, the Wild and Wells Fargo have now donated three facilities throughout the metro.
The rinks provide a nice recreational option to encourage outdoor activity during the winter and to help grow the game of hockey in Iowa. Centennial Park, with its level ground and abundance of parking space, was selected as a good central location for the rink, according to Jermier. “We felt like the close proximity to all of the schools would spur additional interest in using the facility,” he added.
The 80×40-foot rink is constructed each year by the Waukee Parks Department, with help from the Waukee Fire Department. This year, however, the construction process hit an unexpected snag in December. “It appears that someone tried to skate on the ice prior to the ice being thick enough for skating,” said Jermier. This caused major problems for the base of the rink. “The liner was cut, which caused us to lose the water that had not frozen. City staff had to order a new liner,” Jermier added. The entire base of the rink had to be redone once the new liner arrived, delaying the opening of the rink.
Although it was a less-than-ideal experience, the incident provided valuable insight for Parks staff for future years. “What we learned is that we really need to wait to fill the rink with water until the long-term forecast calls for multiple days of freezing weather,” said Jermier. He added that staff posted additional signage at the rink and reminders on social media cautioning residents to stay off the ice until all of the water had frozen and the ice was ready for skating.
Despite the setback in December, the base was repaired and the rest of the rink construction proceeded as scheduled. Centennial Park’s ice rink officially opened on Jan. 21 of this year, and according to Jermier, it has seen quite a bit of use, even during the polar vortex that descended on the state in late January. “The response has been great,” he said.
When weather permits, the ice is open for hockey from dawn to noon daily, and open skating commences at noon and goes until dusk. Per the City website, a green sign is posted at the gate to indicate that the rink is open; a red sign will be posted when the rink is closed. The rink is not supervised, so patrons should keep in mind that they are skating at their own risk.