Ridgeland Common ice rink's opening delayed yet again

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By Ben Meyerson

Chicago Journal Editor

For the third time in the last four years, a costly repair is delaying the opening of Ridgeland Common's aging ice rink.

The Park District of Oak Park has been working on a key piece of broken equipment at Ridgeland's Paul Hruby Ice Arena since July. But it became apparent that the problem wouldn't be a quick fix, forcing the park district to custom order a new part — a condenser, which cost roughly $20,000.

As the park district waited for the part to come in, it became clear the rink wasn't going to be ready in time for opening events at the rink this weekend. Two open houses planned for Saturday, Sept. 25 and Sunday, Sept. 26 were cancelled.

Bill Hamilton, the park district's supervisor for the ice rink, pools and gymnastics center, said Ridgeland finally got the condenser Thursday, and crews are working overtime to install it.

Hamilton estimates the rink should be up and running sometime between Oct. 2 and Oct. 5.

A key question for the park district recently has been what to do with the outdated and antiquated facilities at Ridgeland. Built in 1962, the park district says the building is beyond its useful life and costs too much to repair annually.

In 2007, some of the ice rink's cooling pipes — which keep the ice frozen — had to be replaced, at a cost of roughly $14,000. In 2008, all of the pipes needed to be replaced, which cost $125,000.

Both of those repairs delayed the rink's opening significantly.

At the end of this season, Hamilton said the rink's two other condensers will need to be replaced, as well.

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