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Towns, residents skating on thin ice

Ice. Long ago, they hacked it in chunks out of rivers and shipped it on railroad cars to places not so frigidly blessed. Push a lever on your fridge, and an avalanche comes tumbling down. Drive up to any convenience store on a summer day, and you can load the cooler with 5-pound bags for a couple of bucks. In the winter, the dreaded black ice blankets the driveway as you teeter to your car.

Water plus freezing temperatures equals ice. Seems like a simple enough equation, but two local municipalities are finding it's a slippery slope when it comes to creating and maintaining an outdoor rink, another classic example of man vs. nature.

Eastern Avenue

Recreation Field

The outdoor rink at the popular soccer and softball field was a mainstay in the childhoods of many hometown kids.

I lived right over there on Hyde Boulevard, and the rink took up most of the field, said Jim Regis. "Our parents always knew where we were in the winter, because we were always here."

Regis is now a member of the village Department of Public Works, the group responsible for getting the rink up to speed this year. Friday night, Jan. 25, Regis sat with a co-worker in a DPW truck and stared at the bumpy, choppy ice and water mix that was refusing to cooperate.

"I don't know what the trick is," said Regis.

Crews were out all day and night Friday blasting the small area in the back field with torrents of water from a nearby hydrant. They returned Saturday morning to try to transform the site into a sheet of glass. But despite the chilly temps, the water seeped into the half-frozen ground, trickled into muddy pools, and formed a bump like a pitcher's mound in the center.

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