Mosman Park will be home to Searsport's first ice rink since the 1990s. The Searsport Recreation Department and Mosman Park Association are enthusiastic the rink can be an opportunity to engage local children and help them enjoy the outdoors. Credit: Courtesy of Jim Rose

An ice rink coming to Mosman Park this winter will be Searsport’s first skating area open to the public since the 1990s.

It comes at a time when kids are spending less time outdoors than past generations, with one 2019 study finding that children are only spending a few minutes per day outside versus hours in front of screens. The COVID-19 pandemic, however, has led more people outside.

“We need to try to give them more activities to do,” Steven Shea, the town’s recreation director, said. “We just want kids to be more engaged, more active.”

When Shea took his job a year ago, he immediately started thinking about ways to engage the community. He saw the success of Belfast’s High Street Ice Rink, and thought of Mosman Park as the place to recreate that atmosphere. The park overlooks Searsport Harbor with a distant view of Sears Island, the coastline, and what Mosman Park Association President Jim Rose said are spectacular sunrises.

Mosman Park is privately owned by the association, but it is open to the public. The recreation department has worked with the association on other events, and members wanted to try something new, Rose said.

“The park is thought of as a jewel on the eastern seaboard,” he said.

Town Manager James Gillway also sees potential for the rink to return every year.

Shea is already dreaming up ideas for the rink’s future. But he is holding his cards close to his chest while he focuses on making this season successful.

The recreation department will fund and run the rink. Shea raised an initial $1,500 from local business sponsors and part of the recreation department’s budget. That money has gone toward purchasing a 2,000-square-foot foam rink, lumber, lighting and a homemade zamboni for upkeep.

In the next couple of weeks, the recreation department is bringing in the fire department’s water truck to start filling the rink with 4 to 10 inches of water. The rink will open once temperatures stay consistently cold enough to keep it frozen. Shea is hoping it will be up and running by January.