Turlock’s one-of-a-kind ice skating rink will nearly double in size for its second year of operation this coming holiday season, as the City Council approved an expansion plan at the site operated by RAM Farms.
Requested by the owner of RAM Farms, Turlock Irrigation District President and local farmer Ron Macedo, the expansion is said to help make the ice rink safer by providing more space for Turlock’s ice skaters — many who are skating for their very first time. Being the first and only ice skating rink in town, the outdoor facility saw instant success during its inaugural season last winter, drawing in thousands of community members from around the region.
According to the expansion plans submitted by Macedo, the ice rink will double in size from its existing 4,800 square feet to 9,600 square feet, while also featuring a partial covering of the rink to protect patrons from rough weather. Additionally, RAM Farms would also have to expand their existing parking lot during the season from 28 to 58 spaces with an overflow parking area to allow space for the expected increase in customers throughout the season.
While no formal complaints were received by the City during the ice rinks inaugural season last winter, a few comments regarding parking issues were made by nearby residents during the Planning Commission meeting held earlier this month. Expressing concern about the ice rinks increase in size and customer base, some neighbors said additional parking measures would be needed if the plans were approved, as they would often be blocked off from their homes due to the facility’s visitors parking across the street in the adjacent neighborhoods.
Due to the concerns of the neighbors and recommendations made by City staff, the Council approved the project with the following Conditions of Approval: a required, immediate acoustic analysis to verify that the sound from the loud speakers and music system doesn’t violate City/County Noise Ordinances; a final inspection by Stanislaus County staff at the close of each season to ensure that the conditions are met; a parking management plan to ensure that vehicles park within the designated on-site parking lots, in addition to having at least one parking attendant to monitor traffic and redirect vehicles from parking at adjacent neighborhoods; and making improvements to the overflow parking lot by the beginning of the season.
“We are more than happy to meet all of those requirements and willing to work with all of our neighbors so that it continues to be a place for everyone to enjoy,” said Macedo to the Council. “It’s been a fun and wonderful thing for the community, which is why we want to make it the best that we possibly can.”
During the winter season, the facility at RAM Farms will continue selling Christmas Trees, keeping with the parcel’s zoned “agricultural use” as part of the Turlock General Plan.
The Council voted 4-0 to approve the expansion project, with Mayor John Lazar, a real estate broker, withdrawing from the discussion due to conflicting business.