Ice Rink Commission moves forward with rollover funds

This year a long-awaited project will give students a reason to hope for a cold, snowy winter. The Ice Rink Commission, chaired by Kai Wilson ’14, has managed to work through the tangle of logistical obstacles and plans to construct an on-campus ice rink over J-term.

“We’ve worked really hard so far to get it where it is,” Wilson said. “The situation looks very optimistic.”

The idea was conceived last year, when students voted to use the rollover — built-up funds from six years of over-budgeted student activity fees — to construct the rink. The task of figuring out logistics then went to the Ice Rink Commission, composed of students who proposed the project.

Planning proved to be a challenging endeavor, as the commission ran into problems finding a flat enough area with a nearby water source, but the project is finally set to move forward during J-term. The plan is to build the 40 x 90 foot rink on the south end of Shaw Field, using snow banks to contain water pumped from a fire hydrant in front of the Humanities building.

Wilson said Facilities has agreed to contribute by keeping snow off the ice, but construction and all other maintenance is the responsibility of students.

“It will be a student-run effort, and that’s pretty exciting,” said Wilson, who hopes to form an Ice Rink Maintenance Crew of about 10 to 20 students to regularly maintain the facility.

Student involvement is a potential obstacle to the success of the project, as is another unusually warm winter. The first problem can be solved, however, by sufficient enthusiasm and commitment on the part of students, Wilson said. But Facilities has concerns over the project.

“We in Facilities are not supportive of an ice rink,” said Mark Dickinson, Director of Facilities Services. He cited the questionable flatness of the proposed area and inadequate equipment storage as the primary limitations the rink would carry. He is also apprehensive of the time constraint, as the rink will only last until February 14 at the latest.

“An ice rink requires significant effort to create and maintain,” Dickinson said.

Funds for construction will come from the budget rollover, an accumulation of unspent funds that were allocated to organizations. Funding the maintenance of the facility will cost about $5,000 a year, an amount that will likely also come from the budget rollover.

The Ice Rink Commission hopes that the ice rink will be a permanent addition to campus, so it is important to have a reliable source of funding. Financial Affairs Committee (FAC) Chair Kate Hamilton ’13 is in the process of reforming the organization of the rollover distribution and mitigating the buildup of money in that category. The changes, likely to be implemented in mid-October, would divide excessive rollover funds between various organizations.

“We could also use a portion of the rollover to fund ice rink maintenance,” Hamilton said. “The money is definitely there.”

If all goes according to plan the ice rink will be a great source of fun for the campus community, Wilson said. He added that the Ice Rink Commission may purchase school ice skates and put up string lights for a festive flair. MCSG also suggested that other orgs, such as Program Board, could plan events centered around the ice rink, Wilson said.

“This project will bring the campus together,” Wilson said. “It has potential to be so much fun.”