Skaters looking to hit the ice in Quogue this winter do not have to travel very far thanks to the efforts of Village Ordinance Inspector Chris Osborne.
Mr. Osborne has been charged with maintaining the village pond, located on Jessup Avenue and directly across from Quogue Police Department headquarters, which serves as an outdoor skating rink in the winter. Anyone can skate on the man-made pond at no charge, though skaters must bring their own equipment.
To care for the frozen pond, Mr. Osborne, who also serves as chief of the Quogue Fire Department, explained that he uses hoses that are attached to the village’s fire trucks to spray fresh water on the pond almost every night.
“It works as a real big Zamboni,” Mr. Osborne said.
He explained that workers with the Southampton Town Parks and Recreation Department close the pond each winter by removing the cattails, wetland plants that grow near the waterway, to allow for safe skating. “They winterize the pond and we wait for the cold weather,” he said.
He noted that it has been nearly two years since it has been cold enough to accommodate ice skaters at the pond. “We didn’t have a single day where it was good enough to skate [last year],” Mr. Osborne said.
On a good year, such as the winter of 2006-07, the rink was open for nearly 40 days, according to Mr. Osborne.
When the weather is too warm for skating, he installs signs that warn visitors to stay off of the water. He added that the pond, which is only 17 inches deep at its deepest point, is well lit every night until around 10:30 p.m.
Quogue Village Mayor George Motz said the ice skating rink was originally opened to give local children something to do in the winter. Three years ago, the village purchased a portable rink that was used for only one season. “It was hugely popular, but it was not in very good shape,” Mr. Motz explained.
That facility was later donated to the town and placed on the East Quogue Village Green, where it was used the following season. The rink was unfit for use by the end of that winter.
The mayor noted that the village was looking for a better solution and, in the summer of 2006, crews built the man-made pond. Mr. Motz stressed that the pond is as shallow as it is because it was designed to be used as a skating rink.
So far this winter, the village’s investment has been paying off.
“I did a rough count last weekend and there was probably a total 200 people using it,” Mr. Motz said. “It’s not too crowded, but it’s nice.”
Parking is available on Jessup Avenue when the skating rink is open. Mr. Motz explained that the village suspended parking regulations on the street to accommodate skaters and their families.
Those living to the east of Quogue also have the option of visiting the town’s skating rink at Shinnecock Canal Park, located at 6 Newtown Road in Hampton Bays. Allyn Jackson, the superintendent of the town’s Parks and Recreation Department, said the town-owned rink, which is located near his department’s office, also has been a success this season.
“It’s a fairly good size,” he said. “It seems to be in a very good location.”
There is no charge to visit the Hampton Bays facility and, as with the Quogue pond, skaters must bring their own equipment.