The machine (left) is owned by Kurt Gillund of Rite-Way Drainage. He will be using that machine sometime in May to crush the concrete slabs piled up next to it. This week the fencing around the rink went down. This week the fencing around the rink went down.

Ghent ice rink moving forward

The ice rink cometh. After getting approval from the Ghent City Council at a meeting on April 9, a planned project to renovate the ice rink on the corner of English Street and Highway 68 is moving forward.

The concrete floor of the rink was removed by Bill Maertens and Adam DeRoode, two of the five "Reviving the Rink" project coordinators, in late April with a Bobcat. The large slabs of concrete have been stacked up on the north end of the rink.

From there, Kurt Gillund of Rite-Way Drainage will utilize his Concrete Crusher.

"I bought the concrete crusher for cleaning up concrete rather than burying it," Gillund said. "The concrete has to be broken up and piled up so it can be fed into (the machine) and crushed."

Once the concrete is crushed and removed, the rink boards will be taken down and someone has claimed the wood to be repurposed. "We are glad that we won't have added waste and they can be used again," said Jodi Maertens.

"Once the boards are removed, we will put a new base in, frame it up and pour new concrete." Once the concrete is poured, the new boards can then be put in place around the rink.

"Everything is really dependent upon the weather and volunteer schedules, and making those align," said Maertens. "It is our goal to keep moving forward as quickly as possible with the intention to have (the rink) usable this summer."

One of the problems with the former rink was the floor was in poor condition and uneven, and the boards were rotting in areas. When the rink was flooded in the winter for skating, or on warmer winter days, the unlevel base would force the water to seep under the boards. So the boards would have to be patched up to retain the water.

"With everything being redone, we will be able to keep water from draining out," said Maertens.

"And we will have a more even layer of ice; eliminating the need for a portable pad to be put down.”

"It’s also allowing us to expand the use of the rink to a year-round asset that people can use for rollerblading, basketball and playing."

Daycare providers will also be able to bring children to the rink to ride on toys and play in a secured area once it's completed.

"We plan to add painted activities on the concrete for kids like 'Hopscotch' and 'Follow the Leader'," Maertens said.

The project is being funded by private and business donations, grants and a GoFundMe account.

"We have been working on securing grants from non-profits," said Maertens.

"There has also been a ton of local support from cash donations, equipment, time and talent."

Those interested can follow the progress on the "Reviving the Rink" Facebook page, and can donate on the GoFundMe page.

"Any little bit helps and we are so grateful for the support from the local area," Maertens said.

"We are very excited to recreate this space into something really unique for our community."

The "Reviving the Rink" group feels the rink is vital for the small community. "It’s just too sad to think of it not being here," Maertens said, "We have lots of ideas to make it a fun destination."

Bill and Jodi Maertens, Adam and Chassidy DeRoode, and Mike Stassen are the project coordinators.

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