ELKINS - Hundreds of people congregated at the Elkins Town Square Feb. 7 and 8. many bringing their families for the unusual experience of ice skating in the downtown area.
A portable ice skating rink was provided by Mayor Van Broughton, Davis & Elkins College, Elkins ON TRAC and Elkins City Council. Broughton said recently this was something he had wanted to do for awhile.
"Fourth Ward Councilwoman Nanci Bross-Fregonara heard me talking about wanting an ice skating rink in Elkins. Our goal was to try to get a portable one set up and use it all winter long but we ran into liability issues and worried about a warm spell messing with the temporary rink," Broughton said.
"Scott Goddard (vice president for Student Affairs) at D&E College approached me and wanted to partner for a First Friday event and I thought it would be a good weekend to give it (the ice skating rink) a test run and see what the citizens thought," Broughton said.
More than 350 people came out to enjoy the event, which Broughton said was a big success. The enthusiasm for the event has caused Broughton and the city to look into options for bringing a more permanent rink to Elkins.
"We wanted to wait until we saw the community's response, which was great, super, and we got a lot of compliments," Broughton said.
"We do have plans for a full-time rink. We would like to see one in the very near future," Broughton said. "We have a couple places we are looking at, including our parks or a place in the middle of downtown. Behind the depot would be a great place to possibly have a skating rink."
The parks that are being looked at as viable options are Riverbend, Glendale and Elkins City Park. Broughton added officials would like to put a pavilion over the top of the rink, which would block out the elements but still allow it to be an open air venue.
Broughton said officials are considering all the different options, as there are quite a few different rink styles available.
"We are looking to see what fits our climate and our budget," he said. "We are exploring all our different options and seeing what would be the best fit for us."
The facility is intended to be able to be used year-round, even if the summer time activities are not ice skating-related.
"What I would like to do is summer stuff at the venue as well, like roller skating or putt putt golf," he said. "I'd like to make sure it's a multi-use facility."
Broughton said that the rink would be beneficial to the community, it's members and tourists alike.
"Of course, it would bring people to town, which is always a priority of ours," Broughton said. "It could be a family style atmosphere and anytime we can give people more activities to do, especially the youth, it helps keep them away from negative influences."
The skating rink weekend was one of two First Friday events the city has put together with D&E and Elkins ON TRAC.
A third is being planned for the near future, Broughton said.
"We are looking into all the possibilities of the next First Friday event being roller skating," he said. "We are also bringing other organizations in with us because we are going to try to make this an even bigger and better event."
Broughton said that he is hearing a lot of good comments about the ice skating, and that can only happen when people behind the scenes work together .
"I would like to thank Scott Goddard and his committee with D&E, Karen Carper and her committees with Elkins ON TRAC, Elkins City Council and Nanci Bross-Fregonara," Broughton said.