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Franklin’s outdoor ice rink: cool place for winter fun

Farmhouse Coffee and Ice Cream donates materials, labor for new rink

By: Mary Beth Almond | Birmingham - Bloomfield Eagle | Published February 16, 2011

 Ellie Burke, Molly Burke, and Sophia Hanke enjoy the ice rink soon after it opened in December.

Ellie Burke, Molly Burke, and Sophia Hanke enjoy the ice rink soon after it opened in December.


FRANKLIN — People have been turning out in droves this winter to glide across the ice on Franklin’s new outdoor community ice rink.

Farmhouse Coffee and Ice Cream owners and Franklin residents Mark and Angela Hanke donated the rink, which has been open for more than a month now on the Village Green, behind the Franklin Library, at Franklin Road and Wellington.

“We love seeing all the families coming out in the village and seeing signs of life, so as we were thinking about the cold winter months, my husband, Mark, came up with the idea to build an ice rink. He worked with the village to get it approved, and we donated all of the materials and his labor,” Angela Hanke said. “He put a lot of hours into it. He enjoys building things, so he was happy to do it.”

As the idea started coming to reality, the couple said, others in the community started stepping up and getting involved.

“Yankee Jewelers, right next to the library, was going to help out with the water source to fill it, but as they started, they realized that a garden hose was not going to be enough,” Angela Hanke said.

Soon after, the Franklin Fire Department agreed to use its trucks to fill up the 50-foot-by-75-foot rink, which holds more than 30,000 gallons of water.

“It took several loads to fill the whole thing up,” Angela Hanke said. “Now the library is allowing us to use their water source to maintain the surface of the rink.”

Continuing in the community spirit, Franklin resident and Franklin Community Association President Jane Polan created a skate donation program. Used skates can be dropped off at Farmhouse Coffee and Ice Cream, and they are available for anyone to use at no charge.

Franklin Administrator Amy Sullivan said the village provided the liability insurance to cover the activity, paid for the signage that was required by the liability insurance carrier covering the rules and regulations and reminding users of the inherent risks of ice skating, and approved a variance for the sign.

She said the village is supportive of any plan that brings people down to the village center.

“The ice rink was an example of a collaborative effort. The owners of the Farmhouse were very generous with their time and provided the materials to construct the ice rink, the Fire Department did a great job transporting the water to fill the ice rink — which was quite time consuming, so their efforts were much appreciated — and the village of Bingham Farms graciously donated the water in return for the use of the rink by their citizens. It was a win-win for all of us,” she said.

Angela Hanke said there has been tremendous positive feedback from residents about the new rink.

“They love having the option to do something right in their own neighborhood and seeing other families and neighbors there, too. It’s become a real community hotspot,” she said.

The rink is open to the public from sunrise to sunset. Although there is no admission fee, donations are welcome and can be made at the rink or at Farmhouse Coffee and Ice Cream.

The rink will be up for at least another four weeks, according to Hanke.

“At some point the wood forms have to come down, but I think the weather will dictate that. If it’s still cold, we’ll leave it up as long as we can. The village has no deadline for us,” she said.