SUGAR LAND, Texas – A community in Sugar Land is devastated over the closure of a popular ice rink, where thousands of children and adults come to skate and play sports.
The Sugar Land Ice and Sports Center has been closed for several weeks.
Its owner told KPRC 2, "At this time, rink compressors and dehumidifiers are not working properly in order to maintain the required ice temperatures... No final decision has been made to close down the ice rink. I am working diligently with multiple groups to keep the rink operational."
"It really affects the entire skating community. We've got one of the largest figure skating operations in the country," said Jim O'Neill, the founder of a skate therapy program called "Star Skaters." "I think the best solution is to make this a public amenity like a park."
"Star Skaters" allows children with disabilities the opportunity to hit the ice and the programs take place at the Sugar Land Ice and Sports Center.
"We have children who have gone (from) not being able to support their own body weight who can now skate unassisted. That's an incredible thing. I witness miracles every Saturday morning," said Michelle Ross, a parent and skate therapy teacher.
Miracles such as Franchesca Forsythe, who is blind and has trouble walking, but she can figure skate with no help.
"I can move my legs but it's only because of ice skating," said Franchesca.
"Her muscles come alive when she's on the ice and it does wonders for her physical therapy and her self-esteem," said Angela Forsythe, Franchesca's mother.
The ice rink is also home for several hockey teams.
Erin Blake is a parent and coach whose four sons have skated and played hockey since they were toddlers.
"My 14-year-old who started here at 3, went on with his team to USA Hockey nationals out in North Carolina so it's a huge part of our life," said Erin.
Star Skaters has started a Facebook page called "Save Sugar Land Ice." There is also a petition with almost 5,000 signatures to urge the city to get involved with keeping the rink open. For more information, visit click2houston.com.