BY MONICA VAN DE WATER
Los Alamos Derby Dame
Public Ice Skater
Parent of a former LA Hockey player
Over recent years it has become clear that our season is shorter, weather less predictable. The LA Ice Rink has seen an increase in public skating as other winter sports have become less available due to variable seasons. The ice rink is the only venue that we have any control over its availability to provide reliable ice for hockey and other family winter activities.
As for summer sports the rink is a great venue that is not currently being utilized as it should be. Open air shade would protect roller derby players from the sun and rain. Many times we have to cancel practice due to excessive water on the skate surface which can take many hours to dry. We currently have youth and adult roller derby teams, but can expand to stickball, roller hockey, and more family events such as roller skating nights that were hugely successful and could happen much more frequently especially if the impacts of weather could be removed for summer evening events.
In the twenty years I have lived here I have seen significant improvements in our community. However, there are examples of vastly dissimilar capital investments for venues that have similar usage in the community. The ice rink has higher popularity relative to the golf course according to the recent Community Poll, but it has had significantly less capital investment. Over the last 20 years the golf course has received $8,349,548.00 vs ice rinkʼs $3,792,694.00, which is a factor of two less capital investment for the ice rink. This $4.5M difference is more than enough to pay for a desperately needed upgraded rink, which is required to extend the rinks usage and reliability during winter and summer. Recently it has been proposed a further investment for the golf course of roughly another four million dollars, which would bring the total to more than eight million dollar investment over the ice rink. Given the similar popularity and importance of the ice rink relative to the golf course, this is a large discrepancy.
In order for the ice rink to continue to serve the community it needs upgrades such as replacement of the crumbling concrete pad, a multi zone cooling system and chiller units replacement (they are at the end of their service life), open air shade to extend the season, and addressing parking and safety issues due to high usage. We cannot wait six years for these important upgrades and maintenance that should be implemented as soon as possible. This will benefit the ever increasing popular public skating, school field trips, hockey, provide sunshade for outdoor summer sports such as youth and adult roller derby, and family events such as roller skating.
For decades we have asked for some sort of retractable cover to improve conditions for ice hockey and roller derby. As a side benefit this would enable more tournaments thereby increasing revenue to the county. Now more than ever we just need something to get proper usage of the ice rink through a shortening winter. I would ask our County Parks and Recreation Board and Council Members to consider making the desperately needed ice rink upgrade a priority.
I would also encourage the public, Los Alamos Hockey Association, Los Alamos Derby Dames, Los Alamos Cherry Bombs, figure skaters, and local communities to speak up. Write to the Los Alamos Reporter, Los Alamos Daily Post, Social Media and/or a quick email to Council Members CountyCouncil@lacnm.us and our Parks and Recreation Board firstname.lastname@example.org how important and fun our truly unique ice rink in New Mexico is to you and our community.
Los Alamos County invites the community for a discussion on capital improvement projects (CIP) to inform for the fiscal year 2024 budget preparation.
Tuesday, Feb. 21 at 6 p.m. at the Council Chambers, 1000 Central Ave., Los Alamos
Thursday, Feb. 23 at 6 p.m. at White Rock Fire Station #3, 129 NM 4, White Rock