A new ice rink is coming to Belfast, courtesy of an arrangement between the city, the school district, Waterfall Arts and (possibly) Friends of Belfast Parks. It won’t be fancy, but looks to be a huge improvement over the alternative.

Historically, local skaters have been at the mercy of the erratic freeze-thaw cycles of Kirby Pond, aka The Muck, a spring-fed reservoir at the fork of Lincolnville Avenue and Miller Street.

Under the right conditions, The Muck provided postcard scenes of winter recreation, but the right conditions could be rare. The city’s Parks and Recreation Department made sporadic efforts to keep the ice free of snow — a difficult task that claimed several vehicles — and installed lights for night skating. But a marginal 2010-11 season prompted a look into a more reliable skating venue.

Friends of Belfast Parks, the citizen group responsible for the Belfast Dog Park, took up the cause and pledged $5,000 toward an ice rink provided it was located inside the bypass and on city-owned property.

The City Council approved spending up to $10,000 for the new rink on Oct. 18 and approved a location behind the Waterfall Arts building on High Street. The piece of land belongs to Regional School Unit 20, and the Council’s approval was granted pending a vote by the RSU 20 Board of Directors, which subsequently gave the rink a unanimous thumbs up.

Carol Good, who serves on the Belfast Parks Commission and is also President of Friends of Belfast Parks, said the city has since ordered components of a 104-foot by 72-foot rectangular rink from Wisconsin-based Nice Rink. The roughly $5,800 package includes segments to build an 18-inch high retaining wall, a liner, metal kick plates for the interior and a resurfacing tool for smoothing the ice.

The rink would be installed each winter, from roughly December through March, then disassembled and stored in the summer.

Good said the total cost of the project will likely be less than the $10,000 approved by the Council. Some issues of liability remain to be resolved between the city and school district, she said, and the use of non-city land for the rink complicates the Friends’ original offer. On this last point, Good expressed optimism.

“We’re hoping the Friends will contribute their original offer of $5,000,” she said. “Then the city”s expenses will be less than $5,000.”

City Councilor Mike Hurley, who started the conversation last winter about getting a freestanding ice rink, recalled telling a group of elementary students about the new rink recently. The reaction, he said, was as though they had all been given new cars. The message he took away: kids want to go skating.

“We open the pool for barely two months and it requires a considerable expense,” he said. “We freeze to death all winter. Kids want to skate. Let’s get them outside.”

Workers began excavating a trench behind the Waterfall Arts building, Tuesday, Nov. 8, to bring water pipes to the rink site, and Central Maine Power has erected a utility pole for a light to illuminate the area at night.

The current plan is for volunteers to maintain the ice. To that end, Good said an informational meeting will be held Wednesday, Nov. 16 at 5 p.m. at Belfast City Hall.