The original Kelly Rink on the Jamaica Way in Jamaica Plain was closed in 1992 and in 1997 the facility was torn down despite community objections. The Melnea Cass Rink in Roxbury was closed in the late 1980’s, leaving both Jamaica Plain and Roxbury with no public outdoor winter recreation facilities. At the urging of the local community and The Friends of the Kelly Rink, the Department of Conservation (DCR) and Recreation constructed the temporary Kelly Rink behind the Stony Brook T stop on MBTA land on Marbury Terrace. Opened in 1999, the new Kelly Rink didn’t have an ice skating rental facility as part of construction. From the beginning The Friends of the Kelly Rink took on the responsibility of managing the ice skate rentals for DCR.
The Friends of the Kelly Rink bought a used trailer and outfitted it to be the skate rental shop. We bought a used sharpening machine to maintain the ice skates. Beginning with a fleet of used skates donated by the community, The Friends raised funds to purchase over 250 pairs of proper rental skates. To make the rink accessible to local youth and inviting as a community activity, The Friends charged only $1 for youth 17 and under and $2 for adults for skate rentals. Since that first year, The Friends have operated the rental trailer charging affordable prices each year.
After operating the rink for about 10 years, DCR renovated the facility- overhauling the rink itself and reconfiguring the trailers used for the office, warming rooms, bathrooms and Zamboni garage. At that time, DCR gave The Friends a larger trailer for its skate rental operation.
Since 1999, The Friends have operated the skating rentals in collaboration with the Ferris Wheels Bike Shop, who hire local youth to staff the rental trailer. With the rental fees not generating enough to sustain the ice skating rental operation, The Friends continued fundraising. With DCR approval, The Friends have put up signs around the rink from donations received from local businesses, non-profit organizations, political leaders and individuals.
Since 2004, The Friends have organized a Saturday morning Learn to Skate program that is officially recognized by the United States Figure Skating Association (USFSA). We make every effort to charge an affordable fee for lessons because we believe that everyone should be able to ice skate. We offer generous scholarships so that no one is left out of this enriching opportunity. We received a $2,000 grant from USFSA for the 2015-2016 skating season for scholarships for our Learn to Skate program, and through continued efforts we offer scholarships every year.