Monday, December 26, 2011

On Frozen Pond

Despite what the thermometer has been telling us lately, according to the calendar, winter officially began a few days ago. And, beginning in early October, so did the official start of the professional ice hockey season. In less than a week, the NHL's Winter Classic, an outdoor hockey game played on a specially constructed, temporary rink (this year, inside the Citizens Bank Park --normally the home of the Phillies) will be played between our home team Philadelphia Flyers and the New York Rangers. The Winter Classic was developed by the National Hockey League a few years ago to replicate the feel of how 'real hockey' originally was played, outside on a frozen lake, stream or pond.

What does any of this have to do with Lower Providence?

If you  have driven down Oakland Avenue on your way to or from Trooper Road recently, you might have noticed a curious new development taking shape over the past few weeks. On a private yard, outside a home situated where Oakland intersects with Clearfield, ice hockey rink.

Granted, it's nowhere near professional size, but it's serviceable enough. Being a devout hockey fan myself, I'd driven by it several times when my curiousity got the better of me, and I stopped in to talk to the owners and find out what possessed them to construct it.

The owners, Phillip and Kathy LeBoutillier, explained that their son, Phil, a senior at Methacton High School, plays as a forward for the Methacton Ice Hockey JV Team at Center Ice in Upper Providence Township, and wanted a place to lace up/warm up at home.

Mrs. LeBoutillier told me that her father had built similar backyard rinks himself in the past, and they asked him how it was done.  It soon became a family project as the LeBoutilliers tried to see if they could replicate the rink to the specifications provided by her father. If all else failed, an Internet search also turned up some sites that provide instructions. 

First the wooden frame (approx 20'x30') was built; then the liner was inserted. Last, about 6" of water was added and the waiting began. A week or so ago it had begun to freeze, but the arrival of 60 degree weather temporarily suspended that progress. Hopefully the arrival of January and February will bring weather cold enough to freeze it entirely.

Mrs. LeBoutillier said that the project has definitely generated interest. She joked, "People have asked if we're planning to hold our own version of the Winter Classic".  Of course, it's just temporary, and will be removed in the spring.

There are a couple of other families I'm aware of in our township that have built similar rinks in the recent past, but neither of them were in high-traffic areas such as this one; one was on Lloyd Lane and another on Breckenridge Boulevard (both in my neck of the woods in Trooper).

If you've lived around here long enough, you might remember that we used to have a real ice hockey rink in Lower Providence, at the old General Washington Country Club, where the Club at Shannondell/Chadwick's now sits. In later years numerous problems with the ice making machine and other components of the building caused it to be out of operation more often than not, and when it was finally closed down and reborn in its current form, the rink was not included in the plans. This rink used to be the home ice for the Methacton team, even back when I attended Methacton in the late 70's/early 80's, and a number of our former players still live in the area.

By the way, for whatever reason, Methacton doesn't officially recognize or support its hockey team like they do their football, baseball etc. teams, and didn't when I attended school there, either. They're a great bunch of kids who are playing an expensive, demanding, and exciting sport. I strongly encourage you to come out and root for them during their games (schedule can be found here) and whenever you see them holding a car wash or other fundraiser, to be as generous as you would to our other teams. The Varsity team is the defending PAC 10 champion, so you're missing some exciting hockey! 

Here's hoping that soon, we'll have a deep enough freeze to turn the 'pond'  into something solid enough to put skates on.


Hugh said...

I know where you live and suspect that you are one of the people casuing all the cut through traffic in our neighborhood. I don't cut through your neck of the woods so stay out of ours. it is nobody's elses business what goes on over here so leave it along before the township code folks come and make my neighbor tear it down for some violation or something. keep out!!

Janice Kearney said...

Oh yes, "Hugh", I alone cause all the cut-through traffic. Nobody would ever cut through your neighborhood but for me writing this article. I think we all know how ridiculous that is...people were complaining about cut-through traffic in that area when I was campaigning, and long before that, too.

If you know where I live, you're welcome to stop by anytime and chat.

I did check to see if this project was violating any ordinances and was assured it was not. It's a temporary structure, after all.

Regardless, it is incumbent upon any homeowner to check with their municipality before making any modifications to their property (deck, addition, shed, pool, roof etc.) to see if any permits and/or variances are required. If it was put up and shouldn't have been, me pointing it out is irrelevant. As you just observed, there is a lot of cut-through traffic there, and I am positive somebody besides myself would have noticed it (if they township didn't themselves) and addressed it.

But thanks for writing.