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Main Street Square’s transition from summer park space to winter skating rink will take a little longer this year.

The rink should be open to skaters by the end of November as scheduled, but crews this week began digging out the original sand subsurface under the park turf and skating rink and replacing it with a gravel base to make it more stable, Dan Senftner, Main Street Square president and CEO, said Tuesday.

Senftner said the architect’s original design for the square 10 years ago called for natural grass.

“But imagine that, 500,000 people going through your front yard every year, it didn’t work,” Senftner said.

The natural grass was eventually replaced with artificial field turf, but underneath that was a packed sand base, which has shifted every year, especially this year with all the rainfall the area has received.

“It kept getting worse,” Senftner said. “The sand would shift and the turf beneath your feet would shift.”

The shifting base required crews to continually lift the turf and add more sand. Pools of water in the fountain area would not drain. The irregular base also made it difficult to put in the ice rink during the winter.

“You’d have an area that was sunk in three inches, another area that was higher, and another area that was lower,” he said.

A gravel base will replace the sand subsurface, allowing the summer field turf surface to remain year-round under the ice rink. Before, the turf had to come out because of the undulating sand base.

“It’s going to drain, it’s going to be flat, and it’s going to be stable,” he said. “It’s going to make what I call a really nice living room floor.”

The project came in at about $132,000, under the original budget of $170,000, from city Vision Funds, he said.

The 7,200-square-foot ice rink should be going in by the end of October, with the rink open the weekend before Thanksgiving, he said.

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