WATERVILLE — Ken Walsh is eager to be able watch skaters drop a puck or execute a lutz on an ice sheet outside his window at Alfond Youth Center.

For that to happen, Mother Nature needs to cooperate.

Walsh, the center’s executive director, said volunteers would like to build two ice rinks near the outdoor pools at the 126 North St. building between Christmas and New Year’s Day.

“It’s all about the weather,” Walsh said. “And right now it’s not doing us any justice.”

But as soon as the mercury drops below freezing and stays that way for awhile, Walsh said the rinks’ embankments will go up.

One rink, said Walsh, will be large enough for pickup ice hockey games.

While it won’t be a regulation-size sheet, it will be plenty big enough for people who “really enjoy stretching their legs out,” he said.

The other ice sheet, said Walsh, will be smaller and well suited for children and adults learning to skate.

“It will be more of a novice rink,” he said.

Since a Sentinel article earlier this month announcing the project, Walsh said many people have expressed support for the project.

He said old-timers who enjoyed the South End rink are excited that opportunities will again exist for free, outdoor ice skating.

From sunrise to sunset, and a bit beyond, Walsh said the rinks will primarily be dedicated to community skating.

Sunday through Thursday, the public will be invited to skate for free from daylight until 6 p.m., when the outdoor lighting will be shut off.

Friday and Saturday, the rinks will remain open until 9 p.m.; lights will be turned on about 5 p.m.

Walsh said limited time will be available for youth ice hockey teams and other groups to rent a rink. The cost, he said, will be $25 per hour.

Walsh credited Bert Languet, a member of the Central Maine Youth Hockey Association, with being the rink construction expert. Walsh said the guru from Belgrade even has a rink on his front lawn.

This winter, Walsh said the center’s floor scrubber will also have another use — that of a miniature Zamboni.

The center is seeking donations of ice skates that will be loaned for free to community members.

Walsh said he’s thrilled the rinks will give all children an opportunity to skate.

“It’s a lifetime sport,” he said.

Beth Staples — 861-9252

[email protected]

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