Downsville women turn spare space into skating rink

ContributedThe public skating rink at Pepacton Park in Downsville is seen shortly after the rink opened in 2015.

The fundraising efforts of two Downsville woman have helped provide additional recreational activities in their community.

The official opening for the public skating rink at Pepacton Park was held Sunday, two attendees said. The project was funded with the proceeds of last year’s Best Dam 5K, an annual race organized by Sarah Hood and Kathryn Mattson.

Hood, who owns and operates a fitness center in Downsville, said she and Mattson, a local chiropractor, decided to start the race in 2013 as a way to raise funds to be used locally to support activities to keep the community active. The ice rink seemed like a way to get people outdoors and moving, she said. The funds from the 2013 event were used for other park-related need.

The two approached the Colchester Town Board about the project more than a year ago, she said. With the addition of funds from the Colchester Youth Foundation, a local nonprofit group, the rink became a reality.

Colchester Supervisor Arthur Merrill said Monday the rink is  “a great benefit to the community.” Having these two women willing to organize the race and donate the money back to the community is “an inspirational act of kindness and generosity,” he said.

The rink helps provide a place for family activities, Merrill said. The rink will remain in the park, located on the former town garage parking lot, until spring, when it will be stored for use next winter. Merrill said further efforts to turn the area into a park include establishing walking and fitness trails.

At least 60 people attended the official opening, Hood said, but the rink had been in regular use for two weeks before that.

“We were very happy with the turnout,” Hood said. “It’s definitely been getting used.’

Open skating is held at the rink from 3 to 7 p.m. on weekdays and 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. on weekends and holidays, weather permitting.

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