Closed sledding hill reopens
City completes search for metal pieces in snow
By Scott Bellile
Note: This article was originally posted under the title “New London sledding hill closed.” The hill reopened about an hour after the article was posted. The revised story is below.
New London’s public sledding hill opened again Tuesday, Jan. 5, after the city closed it for a week to remove metal pieces it considered a safety risk to visitors.
The hill was reengineered over the fall and initially opened on Dec. 29, following last week’s snowstorm.
The next day, Dec. 30, New London Parks and Recreation closed it as a safety measure. Parks Director Chad Hoerth was sledding with his children Dec. 29 when he discovered users of the hill were at risk of colliding with approximately six-inch metal anchors beneath the snow.
“When the contractor reshaped the hill, they laid down a straw mesh netting to help hold the dirt down until the new grass was established,” Chad Hoerth, New London Parks and Recreation director, explained in a Facebook post Monday, Jan. 4. “To hold down the netting, they installed metal anchors all over the hill.
“After we opened the hill for first day, the kids sledding down the hill packed down the snow and started exposing these anchors,” Hoerth continued. “With the lack of frost in the ground the anchors starting to come out as the sleds moved over them. Because there is little frost to hold them in, we quickly determined that the anchors need to be removed before one actually comes out and was fully exposed.”
A city worker spent a week scanning the hill with a metal detector to remove the anchors.
“The very last thing we wanted to see was an injury if one of these anchors came out,” Hoerth said.
The hill was redesigned this fall with the intention that users won’t slide into the future city garage, which will begin construction at the bottom of the hill this spring. The garage will replace the current garage along the Wolf River that stores city vehicles.
Mounds were added to the bottom of the hill to keeps users from sledding into the parking lot and the future garage. The hill also faces northeast toward Wolf River Avenue now rather than east.
Hoerth said the hill is less steep than before because the redesigned hill follows current standards, so users can expect a more gradual ride.
Parents who rode down the hill with their children Dec. 29 said they found it to be a slower ride. Regardless, children were seen smiling and laughing as they rode down the hill that day.
City crews will pour an ice rink once frost forms a solid base on the ground, Hoerth said. Whereas the former rink was situated south of the parking lot, the new one will be in the form of a figure-eight that weaves around the parking lot and the mounds, Hoerth said.