Parents, coaches scrambling after Berkley Ice Arena closes

Parents and coaches are scrambling after the Berkley Ice Arena closes down.

- Looking back at seven years of walking through the doors of Berkley Ice Arena and coaching hockey on this ice, former head coach of the Berkley bears hockey team Jeff Fleming can't help but feel nostalgic learning the ice arena must close its doors, cancelling all activities this season.

"It's terrible. It's a situation where we've put a lot into this rink and there are a lot of kids this affects," he said.

City officials say the closure is due to a coolant leak under the building. They say the ice surface began to soften on September 29 and unfortunately, repair efforts were unsuccessful.

"The building is 42 years old, so a lot of things have changed and it gets weathered, and there have been some mechanical issues," Fleming said.

It's also been determined that the leak in the cooling system comes from under the concrete floor.

"The rink should've been closed many, many years ago. The building wasn't made to last thing long but we've made it. And now it's reached its end," Jen Merritt said.

This is just the first of a series of expensive and time consuming tests, using infra-red cameras to detect leaks.

"If they can find the leak and pinpoint it -- things are good. But if they can't, then it's a bigger issue," Fleming said.

But it's not just hockey players, skaters and coaches affected -- Merritt says the baseball team also uses the building and during the summer months, it's used for daycare.

Merrit, house director for the Oakland Junior Grizzles, says while several arenas have stepped up to help -- it's now a scramble to find ice time.

"I spent probably about four days on the phone with ice arenas trying to collect ice from people. And then once you get dates, then you have to contact coaches and parents, 'Hey, can you make it here?'" she said.

While Berkley's city manager says the city is now searching for a public sector partner for a redevelopment project, urging any developers to submit proposals, Merritt and Fleming say they’re going to do everything they can to keep these doors open.


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