Hockey, ice enthusiasts excited about upgraded Community Center facilities
A single, cramped changing area at the old Glenwood Springs Community Center Ice Rink where men, women and youth hockey players and officials used to have to mix it up often meant modesty was tossed aside, among other challenges, recalled longtime adult-league hockey player Sonya Hemmen.
“Believe me, this will be good for everybody involved to have our separate changing rooms and showers,” Hemmen said of a 4,000-square-foot addition to the ice rink facility and other upgrades that are part of a $1.1 million project that is nearing completion.
Dedicated space for four team changing rooms, new restrooms and shower facilities, plus a separate women’s changing room, is just the beginning of the new amenities, Lew Grant, Community Center Ice Rink coordinator, explained during a walk-through of the new facility last week.
The project, paid for in part by a $270,000 Garfield Federal Mineral Lease District grant, also includes a separate changing area for hockey game officials, a reconfigured lobby, admissions and skate rental area, and a new storage area for the ice-making Zamboni machine.
Kurt Carruth of Hagman Architects designed the remodel and new addition, and the general contractor on the project has been DM Neuman Construction.
A significant improvement was also made to the space between the now-6,722-square-foot remodeled building and the open-air ice rink that will make the area a little less susceptible to the winter weather.
Specifically, the large gap between the main building and the overhang of the roof that covers the ice rink has been closed, so maintenance crews won’t have to keep up with as much shoveling and ice control.
“That alone addresses a big maintenance and safety concern for us,” Grant said. “We used translucent [roof] panels so we still get the light coming through, and it definitely still has that outdoor feel.”
The building improvements were also done in a way to be compatible with a full enclosure of the ice rink in the future, he said.
In the meantime, the longer building, which should provide more wind protection, and the gap closure could improve the playing experience on the ice, Hemmen added.
“I’m excited to see what happens with the temperature in the rink,” said Hemmen, who has been playing hockey with her husband for about 12 years. “It gets pretty brisk out there, but we get used to it. It’s our home ice advantage.”
Work on the project is expected to wrap up later this week, before final preparations to get the ice ready for official opening by Nov. 3, Grant said. A grand opening event is also possible that weekend, although plans will depend on the project completion.
Hockey leagues are set to begin on Nov. 9, and the prospects are even greater with the facility improvements now to put Glenwood Springs on the map as a hockey tournament tourist destination.
“This facility gets us to where we need to be to be able to host tournaments,” Grant said. “Now we can do that and get some new overnight stays in Glenwood during the winter.”
TK Kwiatkowski, director of the Glenwood Springs Youth Hockey Association and an avid player himself, is already working to line up some tournament action starting around the holidays in December, including a high school club tournament and a 3-on-3 youth tournament.
“This is really going to do a lot for us, and offer so many more opportunities,” Kwiatkowski said. “Before, we couldn’t even fit a full hockey team in the temporary locker rooms we had. These improvements will be fantastic.”
The two tournaments he is now working to schedule could bring as many as 160 to 240 players, coaches and family members from outside Glenwood Springs, he said.
“The comments from our membership have been nothing but positive,” Kwiatkowski said.
The separate changing quarters could also work to attract more girls into the youth program, which has been without a dedicated girls team for some time. The program now includes about 20 girls who play on co-ed teams, he said.
And, with the new facilities, hockey supporters can also begin to make a case for starting an official Glenwood Springs High School hockey team, he said. High school-aged hockey players from the Glenwood Springs area now play on club teams.
The ice season now runs from early November to about mid-March, depending on outside temperatures, Grant said.
Possible events venue
The ice rink facility improvements could also open up the possibility of hosting events during the off months, Grant also said. The biggest challenge is that, during the hotter months, there’s no insulation in the roof over the rink, so it tends to get pretty hot beneath the roof structure.
Glenwood City Councilman Todd Leahy said he would like to begin exploring the necessary additional improvements needed to accommodate expanded use of the facility during the late spring through early fall stretch.
“We now have the facilities to support something like that, and I think it is a viable space for that kind of use,” Leahy said. “It would also be nice to extend the ice a little longer on either end of the season.”
That would require some type of roof insulation, he said.
Once the ice rink is open for the season, the rink will be available for public open skating times and skate rentals from noon to 1:30 p.m. Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday, and from 6-7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday.
There’s also a period of time on Tuesdays and Thursdays when half the rink is open for skating lessons, and the other half for hockey practices. The remainder of the time the rink is reserved for the various hockey programs, Grant said.
Sometime next year, the city also plans to add new bleachers to the hockey rink viewing area and to install air conditioning units in the building so it can be used for Kids Camp and other programs during the summer.
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