New Synthetic Skating Rink for Rockford

[Update Nov. 28: The rink, a project worth about $350,000 but completed at no cost to taxpayers thanks to many volunteers and a corporate sponsor, opens Dec. 3.]

Rockford Area Venues and Entertainment (RAVE) is putting together a skating rink for Davis Park with the help of union volunteers.

Volunteer laborers began to prime and paint 500 plywood boards inside the vacant former Ingersoll building along the Rock River on Friday. The 16,000 square feet of weather-resistant wood will form the base of a unique synthetic rink to be installed in Davis Park in coming weeks.

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The trades council representing 16 trades unions is donating the labor for the project, [Rockford Area Painters Union Leader John] Penney said. He estimated that depending on how long the project takes, the donated labor could be valued at as much as $50,000.

Paint will seal the lumber and keep it from rotting, Penney said.

RAVE Authority Chairman Mike Dunn and General Manager Gordon Kaye have worked quietly for weeks lining up partners, sponsors, volunteer labor and a synthetic rink to make outdoor ice skating in downtown Rockford a reality.

Davis Park was considered underused until a free family movie night, Friday Night Flix, was introduced there last summer in conjunction with Rockford District Mass Transit trolley rides to and from downtown locales such as the weekly Rockford City Market. Flix enjoyed attendance of up to 2,000 per movie during the season.

The park is also the site of Veterans Memorial Hall. It is located on North Main Street between State and the Discovery Center Museum.