Leaks spur closing of Quiet Waters rink

December 28, 1993|By Dennis O'Brien | Dennis O'Brien,Staff Writer

Annapolis' Quiet Waters Park skating rink, which usually attracts up to 1,000 skaters a day during the Christmas holidays, will be closed this week and may remain closed for the season because of leaks in the underground pipes that chill the ice.

Park Superintendent Michael Murdoch said yesterday that the steel pipes embedded an inch below the pond in the concrete foundation have sprung leaks, making it impossible to keep the Freon, which chills the ice, safely flowing through them.

The 3-year-old rink was shut down Dec. 15 when maintenance crews noticed that the pressure of the Freon had started to drop, he said.

It was opened for about a day, then shut about two days later when repair efforts failed, Mr. Murdoch said.

About four leaks have been detected since, he said.

"We know the pipes are corroded, but beyond that, we don't know what's at the root of the problem," Mr. Murdoch said.

He described the cooling system as being similar to a "huge radiator," about 1.5 miles pipe winding beneath the pond, which measures 190 feet by 180 feet.

Freon, a common refrigerant, is run through the pipes under pressure to keep the ice frozen when air temperatures climb above 32 degrees, he said.

The park opened in September 1990.

This is the first time the rink has had such problems, but park officials say the closing comes at a time when the rink usually attracts its largest crowds.

"It's really the main drawing card for the park in the cold winter months," said Jay Cuccia, an Anne Arundel County Recreation and Parks Department spokesman. "At this point, we just want to see that it's fixed."

Mr. Murdoch said the leaks may force the rink to remain closed for the rest of the season, which runs from Nov. 20 to Feb. 28.

"We feel terrible about this. It's something we enjoy providing, it's a highlight of the park, and we're missing the best part of the [skating] season right now," Mr. Murdoch said.

He said the company retained to build the facility, C.W. Davis Supply Co. of Syracuse N.Y., has sent repair crews to Quiet Waters three times in the past two weeks.

Crews from the firm, which was paid $915,000 to build the rink, ZTC have drained the Freon and shot nitrogen through the piping, which helped them to locate and patch the four leaks.

But the company's president said yesterday he couldn't explain what is causing the leaks, nor could he guarantee there won't be others.

Ronald McHargue, president of C.W. Davis, said the firm will send another crew to check out the system.

He said the system design used at Quiet Waters is about 30 years old and has been used by the company to construct about 30 skating rinks around the country without any maintenance problems.

"We should know more by the beginning of next week," he said.

In the meantime, many would-be skaters have driven up to the park just south of Annapolis only to learn from a sign at the park entrance that the rink is closed.

The only skater there early yesterday afternoon was a lone roller blader, who braved 20-degree temperatures to zip along the park's macadam roadways.

One prospective skater had to satisfy himself and his family with a hot chocolate from the park's nearly deserted concession stand.

"It's very disappointing," said Jeffrey Evans of Annapolis, who came to the park to ice skate yesterday with his wife, Betty, and their 4-year-old daughter, Jaclyn.

"It's still a nice park. But the rink really adds something to it," Mrs. Evans said.

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