This upcoming winter season the City of Soldotna is moving forward with it’s plans to turn areas of Soldotna Creek Park walking trails into skating paths.
The city is currently in a period of nailing down logistics, Soldotna parks and recreation director Andrew Carmichael said. Some measurements are needed before any developments next winter, he said.
“We want to get people to thrive in winter, as opposed to hunker down and bare it,” said Carmichael.
No date for construction is currently set, Carmichael said. Weather will be the determining factor. When it is cold enough to naturally refrigerate the ice, then construction will begin, he said.
The amount of trail area the ice will cover is yet to be determined, Carmichael said. Since the paths are lit after dark, people will still want to use them for walking.
The 5-acre park has picnic areas, playground equipment, benches, and has over 500 feet of elevated boardwalk with river-access stair units that wind along the edge of the Kenai River.
A layer of visqueen plastic will be laid on the ground and a sheet of ice will be formed and polished over it, Carmichael said. The foundational plastic will cost between $600 and $700, he said. The city council approved funding for supplies as part of the Parks and Recreation budget.
“We don’t take financial expenditures lightly,” Carmichael said. Besides materials, the only additional costs will be labor for the trial run this year, which will be assigned internally.
He said, response so far has been positive, people’s eyes light up when they hear the plan.
Carmichael said he has had the idea in the back of his head for some time. He said he is channeling a “Norman-Rockwellian,” picturesque theme for the outdoor recreation. The development is also conducive to the city’s plans to improve the trail systems throughout Soldotna.
Depending on how this first year goes, the city will decide how to expand or revise in the future. The city will monitor how many people use the paths, and check the ice itself to see how much wear it’s getting, he said.
If the ice does not receive much use and it is expensive to maintain then the city will scrap it, Carmichael said. If successful, he hopes to permanently house an older Zamboni from the Soldotna Sports Complex in the park.
Kelly Sullivan can be reached at Kelly.Sullivan@peninsulaclarion.com