A sign on Bog Road for Mackey Skate Park in York. Credit: Rich Beauchesne | The York Weekly

YORK, Maine — A collaboration between the founders of the Mackey Skate Park and the town’s Parks and Recreation Department now has the official stamp of approval from selectmen. And although some changes will be forthcoming this year, more improvements are in store for next winter and the years beyond.

“There are very few communities that don’t have public skating,” said Parks and Recreation Director Robin Cogger. “My staff came up with the idea, and have a desire to do it. It’s not often people want to add to their work, but I think we all see the possibilities.”

The department is going to enter into a relationship with York residents Richard Bartlett and Wayne Martin. Bartlett founded the park, named after the late York pediatrician Robert Mackey, in the late 1990s and he and Martin have maintained it ever since. The two men have spent thousands of dollars of their own money over the years making improvements and upgrades.

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Because the park is on town-owned land on Bog Road, Bartlett had to secure permission from selectmen at the time. In the written agreement, the board back then made clear the park would have to be maintained without any town funds.

“The reception was not agreeable with former boards,” he said. “There was a lot of resistance early on. I remember more than one selectman saying they were afraid we would walk away and the town would have to clean up the mess.”

So he and Martin have paid for bringing in electricity, building a warming hut and starting a second rink only for hockey players. Because the rinks are offered free of charge, they have never asked for donations. “We got to this point without any assistance, but my goal was always to turn it over to the town. That would be wonderful. And I certainly hope after a quarter of a century, the trust has been gained.”

He said, for instance, that since both men work during the day, they can’t be around during those hours to clear rinks of snow or make ice. “This way, Parks and Rec can help us properly maintain the rinks, to make sure they’re the best they can be for the town.”

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Cogger said at least for this first season, her staff will learn from Martin and Bartlett how to maintain the park. “And we’ll see if we can generate ice simply by having manpower there during the day.”

Future plans would probably call for placing a liner in the bottom of both rinks to ensure water doesn’t seep into the ground as it thaws and freezes. A typical cost for a liner would be $4,000 to $6,000, she said. And they would probably increase the size of the hockey rink eventually. But she said she does not anticipate huge expenditures and certainly not any increase in staff.

The only stipulation of the two men is that the recreational skating rink at least be maintained free of charge for anyone who wants to use it, and Cogger has agreed.

Board of Selectmen Chairman Todd Frederick said it is a natural step for the town to become involved, as Bog Road has changed in the past six or seven years to become a recreational hub for residents. The town currently maintains several fields there.