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Ice in the forecast?

At the end of the Osakis City Council meeting on Nov. 6, the council opened the floor to discussion. After some jovial comments about first snow already under our belts, council member Randy Anderson brought up an idea that he said has floated around city council meetings for six or seven years.

An ice rink.

Those in the room picked up the topic with enthusiasm. The discussion centered around a vision of downtown revitalization and wholesome outdoor winter fun.

The city of Osakis has poured hundreds of thousands of dollars into the downtown renovation project, attempting to breathe new life into the central strip of town. In 2016, the city purchased an empty lot from the Ortendahls, located on the northwest corner of Central and Main in downtown Osakis for $40,000.

Over the summer, the city hosted events with movies projected on the wall of the antique shop located next to the lot. During Moonshine Madness, the lot was full of bouncy houses, giggling toddlers and grinning parents sipping bloody marys.

The city hopes to continue using the lot to bring the community together through the dark and cold winter months.

"Can you imagine?" Anderson asked. "Kids skating, popping down to the hardware store to buy candy. Maybe some place to buy coffee or cocoa."

Public Works Superintendent Greg Gottwald was asked to estimate the cost of the project. He suggested that it might be in the $5,000 range for a portable ice rink.

A motion was passed for Gottwald to pursue more official prices for the city to consider.

As the discussion unfolded, questions about where kids would take on and off their skates and who who clear the ice of snow arose.

"The issue of a warming shed is what halted this conversation in the past," Anderson said. "Let's not make it too complicated."

A community member anecdotally shared a story from an ice rink in another town where the kids themselves cleared the snow if they wanted to skate.

There was an ice rink on the west side of town in the past but it was closed because of issues with upkeep, Angela Jacobson, the city clerk/treasurer, said in an email to the Review.

It's early in the process, but the council wants to provide a space for families to gather in Osakis in the snowy days ahead and a portable ice rink in the empty downtown lot is an option.

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