By early November, Lee’s Summit will become the home for the only outdoor ice rink in eastern Jackson County thanks to renovations and expansions taking place within the city’s Parks and Recreation Department. Outdoor ice skating is one of a number of new and renovated facilities designed to improve and update local parks.
Located at Lea McKeighan Park-North at 125 N.E. Chipman Road, the 80-by-100-foot ice rink will be open from November through March. The rink is designed to provide a frozen surface even if temperatures are well above freezing, said Joe Snook, Parks and Recreation administrator.
“We should be able to make ice even when it reaches 50 degrees,” he said. “There’s over seven miles of piping under the rink. They funnel glycol (an industrial antifreeze) through the pipes to freeze the concrete.”
The parks department is working with a management company, KCIce, which will oversee making and grooming the ice. To keep the water fully frozen even during warmer weather, KCIce freezes layer after layer of very thin ice, allowing each layer to freeze before adding another. The ice is then painted white to reflect heat.
The frozen surface, which is half the size of a hockey rink, will be available for pond hockey sessions, public skating, hockey lessons, skating lessons and birthday parties. The cost for Lee’s Summit residents will be $10 for a pond hockey session and $9 for public skating with skate rental available for $3.
During the ice rink’s off season, the space is used for pickleball courts. Although pickleball has been around since 1968, it is growing in popularity.
“We’ve seen a huge escalation of pickleball players in Lee’s Summit,” Snook said, adding that the parks department provides several courts — both indoor and outdoor — at various locations.
Other parks features are becoming more in demand as residents seek a variety of ways to stay active and have fun.
Snook said splash pads are popular and relatively inexpensive to build.
Two pads, located at Miller J. Fields and Lea McKeighan Park-North, are free to the public. A third splash pad will open by late spring 2019 at Howard Park.
In the area of children’s playgrounds, design and equipment continue to change.
“Creative play is a trend we see,” Snook added. “As opposed to a traditional themed playground, these areas have more zip lines and ropes.”
One example of a new creative play area is located at the Charles David Hartman Memorial Park, where the playground includes a slide and climbing ropes built into a hillside. A number of recent playground additions at several sites also feature outdoor musical instruments such as xylophones or drums.
In the near future, Snook said the community can look for more park improvements thanks to funding from a quarter-cent sales tax continuation, approved by voters in 2016 and beginning last April.
Within the next year, Parks and Recreation will be adding its first dirt trail, another new direction in parks, with an approximately 5-mile single-track trail located at Legacy Park.
“The trail meanders through the outdoors,” he said, “and dirt trails are for running, walking and mountain bikes — really a shared use trail.”
A significant project funded through the tax continuation is a new wave pool opening at Summit Waves, located in Harris Park and targeted for summer 2020.
“There are not a lot of wave pools in the metro area,” Snook added. “We are really excited about being able to offer this to the public.”
With the purchase of the Longview Recreation Center from Metropolitan Community College, Lee’s Summit will soon add its fourth community center. The facility, which will be known as the Longview Community Center, is undergoing renovations and will open to the public later this fall.
For more information about the Lee’s Summit Parks and Recreation Department’s 33 parks as well as classes, activities, youth programs and other services, visit lsparks.net.