That's the skating rink on the Vermont Statehouse lawn, which had originally been barred because it wasn't in keeping with the architectural character of the capitol grounds. In the words of an unnamed official quoted in the Barre-Montpelier Times Argus, the rink looked like "a horse stable."
But overwhelming public support, plus the hearty endorsement of Gov. Phil Scott, ensured that the rink would return after its first season in 2017. City and state workers are now erecting the rink with an eye toward opening next week.
"We're hoping to catch the late end of the deep freeze," said Peter Hooper, electrical engineer and project manager for the Department of Buildings and General Services' energy office. "They're putting the plastic up that will maintain the water, and as soon as they get that done we'll turn the water on."
One big change is improved lighting. Six directed floodlights will "make sure that only the rink is being lit, not the land around it," said Hooper. "So instead of having a huge floodlight, these are designed to only light the rink. It's going to look really nice when we fire it up."
The lights are also programmable, meaning the hours of operation will be flexible depending on demand and availability of volunteer supervisors. The initial hours have yet to be set.
The organizing force behind the 40-by-80-foot rink is a committee called Put a Rink On It, which is affiliated with the downtown nonprofit Montpelier Alive. Committee cochair Nate Hausman said the project has a budget of $12,500. The group attracted major donations — including $5,000 from the National Life Group — to pay the upfront costs. Hausman said the group still needs another $5,000 to meet its goal. Donations are being accepted on the "Rink at State Street" Facebook page.
As for that unnamed official's objection to the rustic appearance of the rink, Hooper said the only adjustment is the new lighting. "It's my understanding they used the same exact materials. We reused the same poles and everything."