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Ice ribbon closed for the winter after ammonia leak repairs

FILE - Bare cement is where the ice should be on the new skating ribbon in Riverfront Park, shown Monday, Feb. 5, 2018. Park officials said Tuesday ice will not return to the ribbon this winter. (Jesse Tinsley / The Spokesman-Review)
FILE - Bare cement is where the ice should be on the new skating ribbon in Riverfront Park, shown Monday, Feb. 5, 2018. Park officials said Tuesday ice will not return to the ribbon this winter. (Jesse Tinsley / The Spokesman-Review)

The balmy approach of spring has ended park officials’ hopes to reopen Riverfront Park’s popular skating ribbon this year.

“The challenge is the sunshine,” Leroy Eadie, director of the Spokane Parks Department, said at a news conference announcing the decision Tuesday not to reopen the attraction.

The $10 million structure was built in the shadow of River Park Square mall and its attached garage, but the sun peeked through clouds and struck the 645-foot concrete path Tuesday afternoon, the fourth day of the city’s attempts to create a sheen of new ice. The ribbon has been closed since Feb. 3, when an ammonia leak was discovered in the ice-making equipment and new parts were ordered from the manufacturer.

Eadie and Jon Moog, Riverfront Park director, said Tuesday the city’s plans were pivoting to springtime, with weekend high temperatures expected somewhere near 50 degrees.

That includes roller skating on the ribbon, which could begin as early as mid-April, Eadie said. That should coincide with the reopening of the SkyRide gondolas, which have been out of service as the city completed work on the new structure that will now support the Spokane Falls overlook attraction and the ribbon.

SkyRide tickets are expected to increase 25 cents over their previous price, Moog said. There won’t be a charge for roller skaters to use the ribbon with their own equipment, and safety pads and helmets will be made available free of charge, Eadie said.

Also this spring, the Berry-Go-Round amusement ride, one of a handful of former U.S. Pavilion attractions spared from the auction block, will be installed near the pond feature on the ribbon’s eastern edge.

The nearby Looff Carrousel building is scheduled to open in late April in time for Bloomsday, along with the new south Howard Street bridge and the rebuilt Rotary Fountain.

The city announced this past weekend that those who bought unlimited passes for the ribbon’s inaugural season would have them honored for the first 30 days of next winter’s skating season, and those choosing to buy new passes would receive a 25 percent discount to make up for the closure.

The ribbon was the first of the redeveloped park’s signature attractions to open, funded by $64 million in taxpayer-approved bonds. It attracted scores of skaters in its first month and met the city’s revenue projections before closure, but was also the site of a skater’s death in January.

The skating season had been scheduled to end Sunday. Eadie said the replacement equipment passed inspections and there were no more ammonia leaks detected.