• 61°

New ski equipment coming soon to the Nature Center

Thank you to those who made use of our park and trail system this past year. As a reminder, restroom buildings are now closed and winterized until next spring. Please be mindful if you use the trail system following a snow event or freezing rain that we do not perform winter maintenance on the majority of the trails.

One exception includes the Lion’s Park Trail from Oakland Avenue going north to Packer Arena and then connecting to Mill Pond Trail; this is normally plowed after a snow event.

Our local mountain biking club does plan to groom and maintain a mountain biking trail for fat tire bikes around a section of Todd Park this winter. The easiest access point, from what they have indicated, will be directly north (via fat tire bike) on the road from Izaac Walton Cabin. Again, please note: The road which passes through Todd Park is not maintained to support vehicle traffic throughout the winter months.   

Skiing

Cross country skiing is available at the Jay C. Hormel Nature Center as snow conditions permit. New ski equipment has been ordered and should be available for rental shortly after the new year begins. Until that time, some well-used but still very functional equipment is ready for use on the Nature Center trails.

Outdoor rinks update

Warming house attendants will be staffing all warming houses beginning today. Parks maintenance staff continue to lay water (build ice) on the rinks.

The thawing weather has hindered their attempts, but as the temps drop again, our (rink) ice-making efforts will be more fruitful. I’m told there is a very good base of ice on the rinks at both Kaufman and Galloway. However, staff encountered a bit of a set-back at the hockey rink outside of Packer Arena, where the ground within the rink area has more of a slope than staff had anticipated when planning this location this fall.

Thus, parks staff will seek to contain the water (ice) within the rink via some type of plastic liner on the ground. We’ll likely need to re-grade the underlying dirt in this grassy area next spring/summer to obtain the desired nearly flat ground surface for the rink boards in prep for next winter.

The ice we encounter in our lives

Ice, without containment, re-direction, or purpose can prove to be a nuisance or a hazard, or it can be a thing of beauty. Ice, such as skating rinks or ice cubes, can give us pleasure, and it can enhance our drinks and extend the useful shelf life of the foods we eat; ice can also foster healing when used to reduce inflammation in the human body.

Ice can form frozen waterfalls, a thing of beauty to those who marvel at water, it’s potential for power, harnessed within the frozen mass for a season. Ice can serve as roadways across bodies of water, to reach normally water-surrounded destinations, or even serve as vast expanses to go fishing or explore. Ice, when frozen on windshields, improved roadways, and power lines, may not be perceived by most as anything but a nuisance or a hazard.

Ice, when frozen within cracks in rocks, sidewalks, mortar on block foundations/brick walls, and on roadways, expands and causes much damage, crumbling away at things seemingly otherwise impervious to harm. Ice can heave along shore lines of lakes, uprooting trees and moving beaches and rocks. When ice begins to thaw, it can fracture, flow or blow and compile within rivers and on roadways, causing flooding and/or driving obstructions.

The most damaging of ice is that within the human condition, the ice that makes hearts unfeeling, void of love, forgiveness, empathy, and trust, hearts that yearn only for what more they can do for themselves. Even these hearts can thaw. God wishes that none should perish but rather have everlasting life. You can read more in the books of Luke and John.

Packer Arena public skate date

  • Today: 3:15-4:45 p.m.
  • Thursday: 3:45-5:15 p.m.
  • Dec. 28: Noon to 1:30 p.m.
  • Dec. 29: 2-4 p.m.
  • Dec. 30: 3-5 p.m.
  • Dec. 31: 5-7 p.m..

These dates/times are also posted on our Facebook page.

Merry Christmas from all of us at Austin Parks, Recreation & Forestry Department!