The gift of warmth

Barbara Lawlor, Nederland

ds shortridge foundation

Imagine skating hard for about 10 solid minutes, adrenalin pumping, sweating with the heat of competition and then stopping and sitting on a cold bench, an icy wind drying the sweat and freezing your face while you start to shiver waiting for your next turn on the ice.

Imagine being a parent of a hockey player who has been looking forward to you attending his first real game on home ice and sitting on a metal bleacher seat, your butt numb, your fingers frozen, your toes not there and your cheeks stinging, trying to focus on what your child is doing while all you want is to be warm.

No more. Those days are gone. From now on, no-one freezes at the Nederland Ice Rink. Last Thursday, David Shortridge and his son Michael represented the Shortridge Family Foundation in presenting their donation of four outdoor patio heaters, an office heater, and full, brand new propane tanks to provide the fuel source for the heaters. Two heaters will keep the spectators warm while they watch their children skate, while players are also kept warm by the other two heaters mounted in the players’ benches.

Warmth is just one more of the many challenges that have been met to make the ice and tennis park an enjoyable and successful community effort, says Marie Allen. After many years of playing hockey in back yards and on Mud Lake, the Nederland Youth Hockey players were given a chance to play on a real rink setting, with smooth ice, boards and places to sit, when the RINK board was formed consisting of Tim Murphy, Marylou Harrison, Rich Turco, Marcello Gomez and Mary Joyce, with Garry Sanfacon as their advisor.

In 2001, Sanfacon brought the site of 500 Peak Drive to the attention of the Board, and together with the Town of Nederland, they put in motion a grant application. The first application was turned down, but NYH persisted and the second GOCO grant for construction was awarded in 2003. For $200,000.

RINK was on its way, but matching funds of $100,000 were needed; and through efforts by citizens from the recreational community and the Town of Nederland (and especially Ned’s Public Works Director at the time, Tim Underwood), and through in-kind donations the funds were raised. A major accomplishment in a small town.

The project management team was formed by Garry Sanfacon as project manager, Tim Murphy as construction manager, and Tim Underwood working from the Town of Nederland. Construction began in the spring of 2006, and that winter, skating at the park began with boards donated by the Caribou Wind adult hockey team, who had tried to construct a skating rink on the west side of the reservoir at the ball field but the high winds blew the boards down and the water to one side of the rink.

Bridget and Paul Fearing, who owned the property adjacent to the present rink site, donated a used Zamboni which they found on eBay, and water was poured from spigots and hoses run from their home.

In the summer of 2007, a post tension concrete slab was poured to accommodate a three-court tennis facility for the ice off-season to start a tennis program for the community. Marcello Gomez, a well-recognized member of the US Tennis Association, ran the program.

In that first year, during the off season, the NYH traveled to Breckenridge and dismantled, loaded, and shipped a set of used fiberglass dasher boards to be mounted on the concrete slab for the 2008 season.

Donations poured in and the RINK grew and flourished, becoming a treasured asset to our community. Donations came from the Fearing family, who donated the outdoor lighting and material for the building; the Muessler brothers, who constructed the warming office and buck-n-rail fence as a Boy Scout Eagle project; Ron Mitchell and Tuff Shed provided the warming huts; Peak to Peak Electric did the wiring and heating. Walter Chapman, Bill Allen, and Fruth Construction helped with the office and snow blower garage; and Wild Mountain Smokehouse provided a grant for the bathrooms and utility room. And there are many, many more who have donated time, materials, and money.

The Shortridge Family Foundation has added its name to that list of donors. This is a gift that will be remembered every time someone warms their hands or the top of their head under the pillars of heat. Being warm both inside and outside is a wonderful present and given at the exactly right time of year, the beginning of the hockey season.

The Shortridge Family Foundation was created as a philanthropic organization meant to benefit the residents of the Nederland area community. David Shortridge’s son, David Shortridge II, moved to Nederland to care his dad when he lost his eyesight. While he was here, David II endeared himself to the community by volunteering to deliver meals to homebound senior citizens. He loved the people of Nederland and they loved him, says Michael.

When David died, the Shortridge Family Foundation was created to honor his memory and to give to the community in appreciation for everything the community gave to him.

“We are happy to gift these heat towers to the Nederland Community Ice Rink in his memory,” said Michael at the presentation. “We hope you enjoy them.”

Four skaters who had come off the ice to stand under the heaters had much to say about the gift: Ellie Brewer said that the heaters would make it more comfortable for spectators and for the players on their water breaks.

“I’m glad we have heaters, so finally my mom will stop complaining about being cold,” said Rowan Nasty. “And I am happy so my toes won’t freeze again.”

Marie Allen said, “The Shortridge Family Foundation will be warming our hearts and, literally, our bodies, for years to come. It is helping RINK to jump over another of many hurdles that has been set to make the rink a successful and pleasant experience.”

Barbara Lawlor

Barbara is a reporter for The Mountain-Ear.