More than $700,000 of improvements have been made at Medford's LoConte Rink, which will allow it to remain open for additional months in the late fall and early spring, officials said Wednesday.
Mayor Michael McGlynn and Department of Conservation and Recreation Commissioner Ed Lambert showed off the new insulated ceiling and dehumidification system at the rink Wednesday morning.
"It is supposed to trap heat and keep the ice from softening," McGlynn said, standing on the chilly center ice. "Let me tell you, it's working."
LoConte Rink has gone under a series of repairs over the last 18 months, including new rink boards and locker rooms last year. The new ceiling and dehumidification system were completed in November, McGlynn said.
The rink is owned by the state, but has been operated by the city since 2010, when the DCR decided to enter into several similar partnerships. The repairs are expected to allow the rink to open in September and remain open until April, allowing for more practice time for youth teams and more public ice skating, Lambert said, which he described as a "quintessential New England activity."
The new ceiling was paid for with state funds; the dehumidification system was paid for by a combination of state and city funds, as well as electric company National Grid, said Alicia Hunt, Medford's energy efficiency coordinator.
Tony Bova, a longtime supporter of youth hockey in Medford, recalled when games on rainy nights at the rink used to be stopped and players would have to skate in circles in order to clear away fog.
"We're delighted to see the improvements come to fruition," he said.