"Our Town" By James W. Tucker
Hampton Union, Thursday, January 19, 1961
The Kiwanis Skating Rink at Batchelder Park on Towle Farm Road has provided healthful winter recreation for hundreds of children and adults thus far this season. In spite of the blizzard of December 12, a snow storm in early January and a couple of thaws, conditions have probably been a little better than usual this winter for ice skating.
Under an arrangement which has been found mutually satisfactory the service club has turned the rink over to the former owners of the park -- the Horace Batchelders, for th 1961 season. They provide care, maintenance of the ice surface, supervision, fuel and lights in return for the receipts from skating fees and snack bar. Their profits are meagre in view of the efficient service they render and the vagaries of the weather.
Geared to Schools
The skating sessions are geared to the spare time available to children in our public schools. The rink is never open in the morning. On school days, the hours are from 3 until 5 o'clock in the afternoon and the skating fee is 15 cents. On Saturday and Sunday afternoons, skating hours are from 1 until 5 o'clock and the fee is 25 cents. Friday and Saturday evenings, the hours are from 6 until 10 o'clock and the charge is 25 cents. Skating is not permitted unless weather and ice conditions are ideal.
The Snack Bar
The roomy warming hut, with the snack-bar at one end, gives the youngsters a chance to rest and relax and to enjoy a hot chocolate or a frankfurter. The prices are very reasonable and many children spend far more for candy than they do for admission to the rink. Mrs. Batchelder presides over the snack-bar where he home-cooked doughnuts are a feature.
Supervision - Maintenance
Her husband, Horace, supervises the skating, keeping youngsters with hockey-sticks and pucks in a section of the pond apart from the smaller children. He maintains order at all times without a show of discipline because he understands and likes children. But best of all, because of a lifetime of experience with the pond where his family formerly cut ice to supply the Hampton communities, Horace knows how to maintain an ice surface suitable for skating.
Moreover, he owns and operates the necessary equipment -- plows, scrapers, brushes, etc., to do the job properly. After a skating session has rutted the ice surface, it usually is swept and then sprayed with a force-pump. As a result of efficient, painstaking care, the rink is usually in perfect condition for skating.
The Kiwanis Club of the Hamptons has had wide experience over the past 22 years in endeavoring to afford a proper skating place for citizens of Hampton. Its last and most disastrous effort was the rink it tried hard to maintain at the gravel pit on Landing Road. That experiment cost the club many hundreds of dollars. A warming-house, with a potential value of $2,500 and complete lighting system were ruined by teen-age vandalism.
Lesson From Failure
Volunteer supervision didn't work out and there never was adequate maintenance. Failure marked the project from beginning to end, but the costly lesson has helped to bring about the successful operation of the Batchelder Park rink. Adequate supervision and maintenance provided the answer to the problem and this was made possible by the application of a small fee, sufficient only to cover the costs involved. And people seem to have more respect for a service to which a fee is attached.
Only Scratch on Surface
The local Kiwanis Club tackled a man-size project when it started out to build Batchelder Park as a year-around recreation center for the community. The funds it has collected and the volunteer work which has been accomplished, will hardly scratch the surface of the complete project which has been planned by the service club. Much more money will be necessary over the years which it will take for the long-range development of this recreation center.
It will be necessary to deepen and enlarge the pond, constructing proper embankments around the shores. Before the planned picnic area and the camping section for youth organizations can be completed, a forestry project, which encompasses the thinning out of the extensive stand of pine, will be undertaken -- probably this winter. More roads will have to be built; toilet facilities installed; water piped from a wonderful never-failing spring to camping section and picnic area; the old ice house, which now serves as a storage shed, removed and facilities for swimming purchased. The service club even considers the eventual construction of a year-around community center building on the site of the old ice house. These are only a few phases of the plan for which more capital investment funds will have to be sought.
Unfair to Donors
Under the circumstances, it would seem unfair to donors to use funds which they contribute for capital investment purposes -- that is for building Batchelder Park -- to pay for such maintenance charges as are involved in the proper upkeep of the skating rink, for instance.
There may come a day when the project is completed, that the Kiwanis club will offer to turn the year-around recreational center over to the Town of Hampton. Under municipal supervision and maintenance it might be possible to eliminate all fees, yet the State of New Hampshire charges fees which the public gladly pays for admission to parks, camping grounds and picnic areas.
Up to Kiwanians
Batchelder Park, project of the Hamptons' Kiwanis Club, is far more than a dream. Just now it comprises, fifteen acres of beautiful woodland, containing brooks, springs, and a pond, right in the heart of Hampton's most desirable residential section. Plans are well under way to convert this natural beauty spot into a year-around recreational center which might, with the understanding co-operation of all citizens, become a source of pride and joy to the entire community. But the success of the plan depends entirely on the ingenuity, tenacity and ability of local Kiwanians.
Highway Commissioner John Morton has announced that the extensive and costly studies of his staff relative to the proposed extension of Route 101-C to Hampton Beach will soon be presented to the Governor and Council. With relation to the "loaded" post card survey of last summer, Morton announced that he is "not completely satisfied" with results of a preliminary examination of the survey which "didn't point up complete support of our plan." From citizens of the Hamptons he had had complete opposition to his plan for a northerly approach. Apparently, even the casual motorist wants to make this opposition sentiment unanimous.
Truck Belong on Pike
And all local citizens, business people and motorists are unanimous in another sentiment which they would like respectfully to suggest to Mr. Morton. When you consider a readjustment of toll fee on the adjacent N.H. Turnpike, please adjust truck fees in order to obtain the patronage of all the tucks which now use the Lafayette Road freeway. These trucks which clog and obstruct recreational traffic on Route 1 in the summer, are probably responsible for the great damage now obvious along the recently resurfaced Lafayette Road from Hampton to Smithtown [now part of Seabrook]. The Turnpike was made for these heavy trucks. That is where they belong and that is where they would go if toll fees were revised downward.