Turlock’s Fields of Ice skating rink at R.A.M. Farms could be doubling in size for this year’s winter skating season.
A proposal to double the size of the ice skating rink is on the agenda for the Turlock Planning Commission meeting on Thursday.
The proposal would increase the size of the seasonal ice skating rink at R.A.M. Farms from 4,800 square feet to 9,600 square feet.
Ron Macedo, R.A.M. Farms owner and a Turlock Irrigation District director, said the proposed size increase is intended to make skating more safe and comfortable, not necessarily to accommodate more people.
Co-owner Rob Santos also clarified that the proposed increased size for the ice rink is not to accommodate increased growth but to accommodate the current need.
“Last year the turnout was amazing. And because of such a great response we often had to turn people away and the rink could get very crowded. We heard over and over from guests, ‘you’ve got expand the size of the rink.’ And we agree. An expanded size will meet the demand we had and make the skating experience overall safer and more enjoyable.”
Part of the larger rink would be covered to protect guests from inclement weather during the winter season.
“We were just so fortunate with the weather last year, but I don’t expect that to happen again, so we want an ice rink with a tent over it,” said Macedo. “… About two-thirds of the ice rink will be covered, so you still have that outdoor experience – you can see the stars when you skate at night time.”
Macedo added that the tent would also allow for improved lighting and music on the ice skating rink.
Approval of the proposal would also increase parking spaces from 28 to 58, with an overflow parking area.
“I don’t think we had parking issues last year. People did park on the street… but I think it was probably just more convenient,” said Macedo. “That’s one of the concerns of the city.”
A City of Turlock Planning Department report indicates that the larger skating rink should potentially be treated as commercial use, as the proposed parking lot would have as many spaces as the CVS Pharmacy center on the corner of Monte Vista Avenue and Geer Road. The parcel is currently zoned for agriculture, as R.A.M. Farms grows corn on the land and operates a seasonal Christmas Tree lot and pumpkin patch, all of which are appropriate agricultural uses.
The city did not require major improvements to the roadways, nor did it conduct a traffic study to see if additional improvements were needed at the time the Fields of Ice skating rink was first proposed last year.
With the expected increase in traffic due to the larger ice skating rink, the city may now require such things to be done.
Macedo added that R.A.M. Farms will have to do some electrical work, at the City of Turlock’s request.
The Fields of Ice skating rink was incredibly successful last year, even opening on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day to meet demand. This year, per the proposal, the rink would operate through the third week of January – an extra nine days of skating.
“Even in our wildest dreams, we didn’t expect the kind of success we had last year,” said Macedo.
Macedo hopes to continue last year’s success this year, and into the foreseeable future.
“We’re having nothing but fun out there,” said Macedo. “And I think the city is really enjoying it too, so we hope to keep doing it for a long time, for as long as we can.”
Following Thursday’s Planning Commission meeting, the Turlock City Council is expected to weigh in on the development on May 27. The Stanislaus County Planning Commission will have the final say on the development, as R.A.M. Farms is located just across Turlock’s border.