Barlow: Free open skates boost usage

Fair Haven's Ryleigh Holliday skates at the James P. Cullinan Ice Rink last month.

More than a year after eliminating the fees for open skates at the city’s James P. Cullinan Skating Rink, Oswego Mayor Billy Barlow says there’s been an increase in usage.

Barlow said there’s no definitive number of people who have hit the ice for the weekly open skates at the rink, since there’s no longer someone there who would normally mark down the participants and collect the money. Still, Barlow said crews have seen a few more kids every open skate than last year, including some new faces.

“We’ve been more people use the rinks since we made them free, similar to what we did with the city pool,” Barlow told The Palladium-Times Monday.

In November 2018, the Oswego common council approved the elimination of fees to skate at the Cullinan Rink, which is located at 281 West Fifth Street behind Kingsford Elementary. It came six months after the city agreed to stop charging admission to the Charles E. Gallagher Swimming Pool.

Open skates are from 8:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. on Fridays, 7 to 10 p.m. on Saturdays and 7 to 10 p.m. on Sundays. There’s also family skates from 5 to 7 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays. Family skate requires an adult with all youth under the age of 18.

The changes to the rink and pool were meant to encourage physical wellness and provide activities for residents year-round. The fees used to be $1.50 to $3 per visit to the ice rink.

Officials said the rink took in less than $1,500 per year in open skate fees, and it made fiscal sense to get rid of the fees and the position of the person collecting money.

Barlow noted there are other winter activities in Oswego, such as sledding and snowshoeing, but going ice skating is a popular Oswego tradition.

“The ice rinks are probably the go-to (winter) activities,” Barlow said. “We encourage people to enjoy the facilities and the local attractions we have.”

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