Iceland Skating Rink Wins Another Reprieve By MATTHEW ARTZ

Tuesday October 11, 2005

Berkeley officials opted Friday not to close Iceland and instead ordered the 65-year-old rink to hire an acoustical engineer to quiet its yet-to-be installed temporary refrigeration system. 

The city is scheduled to meet with Iceland and the engineer on Thursday to determine whether the rink, at Milvia and Ward streets, can quiet the system enough to install it in a residential neighborhood. 

In July, Berkeley officials demanded that Iceland install the temporary system because the permanent refrigeration system lacks key safety devices and holds too much ammonia for firefighters to control in the event of a major leak. 

Iceland’s deadline to install the temporary system expired Friday, but Assistant Fire Chief Gil Dong said Berkeley would not close the rink at least until after Iceland’s acoustical engineer issues a report scheduled for release on Wednesday. 

Dong said the city rejected Iceland’s proposal to build a custom-made sound barrier for the system that would take four months to complete. 

“They need to find something quicker to make sound reduction work,” he said.  

Iceland General Manager Jay Wescott said the rink didn’t know of any quieter temporary cooling machines on the market. 

“We’re trying to see how quickly we can come up with a remedy,” he added. “We just don’t want to put it out here and keep our neighbors awake at night.” 

The temporary refrigeration system is planned for the rink’s parking lot, across from a condominium complex on Ward Street. 

Berkeley’s noise ordinance prohibits ambient noise above 45 decibels in residential neighborhoods. Dong said that the latest tests showed the temporary system would produce 70 decibels of noise at property line for the condominium owners. 

Dong added that if Iceland fails to quiet the temporary system, the City Council could choose to issue the rink a variance to operate above the statutory noise limit.