Leif Erikson Park skating rink

A group of youth walk across the Leif Erikson Park ice rink on Jan. 31.

Jim Lee, Sioux City Journal

SIOUX CITY | The number of outdoor ice skating parks in Sioux City is anticipated to double next winter, to two, with the arrival of a facility in the under-development Cone Park.

Until that happens, the rink at Leif Erikson Park is periodically holding up as the option for skaters to turn circle eights and the occasional pickup hockey game. People who like it return for continuing skating.

Kim Davis lives three blocks west of the park and said it has been used nearly every time she has gone by this winter.

"I kind of make it a point to see if it is being used," Davis said.

Davis likes to ice skate herself, and years ago frequently took her children until they were up to about age 12.

"It is nice to have a rink like that up here in the neighborhood," Davis said.  "It is really nice, it is big...It is good, clean fun," Davis said.

Leif Erikson Park, at 1100 31st St., has a swimming pool, tennis courts and playground for warmer months. Additionally, in winter the city has fashioned the rink in an area north of the park's tennis court. An area near a berm holds either frozen natural water or water applied by city crews periodically. 

Sioux City Parks and Recreation Department Parks superintendent Kelly Bach said the skating area is a "very good option" for city residents.

Bach said workers cart snow away from the rink after some falls, to keep the ice as clear as possible. The best ice comes with a deep frost, Bach said, so temperature of the ground and of the air determines how the quality turns out.

"It all depends on the weather," Bach said.

He noted a busy weekend of skating came with the favorable weather conditions on Jan. 14-15, ironically right before an ice storm that shut down schools and made sidewalks treacherous.

"It was really busy. It was a perfect sheet of ice," Bach said.

Then after a four-day January thaw, the rink on Jan. 21 was fairly much a melted pond. Bach noted the parks department tried to set up an outdoor rink this winter too by the Missouri riverfront area, but it didn't pan out.

Cone Park is slated to open by December in the Singing Hills area in southeast Morningside. The $4 million park include a tubing hill, a day lodge, a 1.5-mile trail and an ice-skating rink that will double as a splash pad in the summer.

City parks director Matt Salvatore said the Leif Erikson rink has been well used and that a study showed the public would like one in Cone Park.

"Outdoor skating ranked very high," Salvatore said.

After Cone Park opens, the Leif Erikson rink will continue to be maintained. Both rinks will need natural cold temperatures to freeze, although the Cone Park version will have a concrete pad and the ice will be maintained by a Zamboni.

People will be able to rent skates, but the plan is that they won't have to pay a daily fee to use the rink, which Salvatore said will be a nice outdoor option.

"It will be very well maintained," Salvatore said.

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County and education reporter

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