Making ice on a sub-zero day

Staff photo by Clay Schuldt Park and Recreation maintenance worker Ed Tietel operates a fire hose in below zero temperatures to add layers of ice to the outdoor hockey rink. Maintenance workers worked in multiple shifts to add between 40 and 50 layers of ice to the rinks at Harman Park.

NEW ULM — With temperatures dipping well below freezing, most people considered Wednesday an indoor activity day. But for the Park and Recreation maintenance workers, it was a perfect time to get outside work done.

Specifically, maintenance teams worked in shifts to flood the outdoor ice rinks at Harman Park. Ed Tietel and Doug Teneyck worked from the morning through afternoon to add layers of ice to the two ice rinks. The pleasure rink and hockey rink can only be flooded and frozen during days with consistent freezing temperature.

Park and Recreation Director Tom Schmitz said Wednesday was the first chance all season for crews to flood the rinks. Even a week ago any attempt to flood the rink would fail due to 50 degree temperature.

Teneyck said the maintenance team already tried to flood the rinks earlier in the season but a burst of warm weather thawed the ice too soon. Consistent cold temperatures are needed to finish the freezing process. The ground itself holds in heat, meaning the outside temperature must be cold for several days before flooding can begin.

Schmitz said despite an earlier failed attempt to flood the rinks, the Parks Department was still making ice sooner than last year.

“Usually it’s not until January that we can flood the rinks,” Schmitz said.

Teneyck agreed that in recent years it was necessary to wait until January to flood, but he remembers a time when the second week in December was cold enough.

The flooding process is done in phases. Different workers will continue adding layers of ice through the night with one shift working from 10 p.m to 6 a.m. At night temperatures drop even lower which is ideal for freezing.

Use of the Harman Park ice rinks is free to the public. The warming house shelter is open from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Friday; 1 p.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday; 1p.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday and 1 p.m. to 8 p.m. on all school-out days.

A variety of figure and hockey skates will be available for public rent at a fee of $2.25.

On extremely cold days or extremely warm days, the decision to close the shelter will be made at 3 p.m. on school days or at noon on non-school days. If there is question as to whether the shelter is open, the cancelation line can be reached at 507-354-9041.


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