Family Fun Day to Help Save the Skating Rink at Lower Chester Bowl

On Saturday, Sept. 25, at 2:30 p.m., all neighbors are invited to gather at the Lower Chester Park Rink on East 15th Avenue between Fifth and Sixth Street. This is a pot luck event with games, balloon animals, a magician, and other silliness.

There is a serious side to this event, too. The rink and warming house at Lower Chester Park are in danger of being torn down — and soon. They are still in good repair, and it would be a shame to see this facility continue to go to waste. The facility has been under-utilized for several years due largely to lack of consistent hours, no Zamboni, no easy way to flood the rink, etc.

The goal of this gathering on Saturday afternoon, aside from having some good-ol’-fashioned family fun, is to mobilize a neighborhood-wide grass-roots effort to keep this rink alive. We’d love to fill the rink on Saturday afternoon with as many neighbors as possible (from BOTH sides of the creek!). College students, high school students, and families with young children are especially encouraged to attend.

Utensils, plates, bowls and cups will be provided. Bring lawn chairs, beverages, anything with wheels (human-powered), and lots of enthusiasm. Folks with questions should contact Mabel Galvin at 724-7667, or Bev Bertnson at 724-6126.

17 Comments

krlars

about 12 years ago

Seriously, are you trying to save the rink....my husband and several other hockey dads have been ranting about this for years.  We've collected some good ideas on how to do this from other dads.  I'll see if I can get us there.  Is DAHA ready to give it up?

ab

about 12 years ago

I play inline hockey with a group that uses this facility on Tuesday nights and we had to fight to keep the right to use it.  This included joining Friends of the Park and obtaining insurance for usage to release liability from the city.  We are also looking into flooding and maintaining for winter use.  This is a great step in informing others of its lack of use and drive for more participation.  FOTP currently uses some of it for their gardens but has graciously worked with us to continue playing our weekly hockey.  P.S  all are welcome and we could use more players.

ab

about 12 years ago

Lower Chester rink is at 14th East and 5th st

Judy Gibbs

about 12 years ago

Hi there
We (Friends of the Parks) approached the city more than a year and a half ago with an idea of using the Lower Chester building for our home base for us carrying out our mission of helping protect, enhance and improving all of Duluth's parks. 

We are a city wide organization, and have opened our doors at Lower Chester for summer camps, the Duluth Flower and Garden Society, the Inline Hockey folks, the Seeds of Success gardening program. We have been working towards park and trail stewardship throughout the city.

 Because the city very much welcomed the ideas we presented, we were granted a three year lease agreement, AND the city, instead of its initial plan to tear it down, has mud-jacked the building, provided us paint to paint the interior, will be insulating, re-roofing and re-siding the facility. 

The interior of the main building has been cleaned and painted, the goal being meeting space for organizations, for classes, office space for FOTP. It has already been routinely used for classes and meetings.

We had to take out a liability insurance policy as well. This is true of other organizations who have taken over other facilities, such as Volunteers Caring and Patrolling in Lincoln Park. As stated above, the hockey folks wanted to continue to use the rink for in-line hockey, and in order to do so ALSO had to get insurance.

One comment above asked if DAHA was "ready to give it up" and my understanding is that when hockey got consolidated, many years ago, the rink was officially abandoned then. the compressors for making ice no longer work, and the city does plan to remove that equipment.

krlars

about 12 years ago

ab- our understanding was that DAHA owns the cooling system and the boards and did not want the rink up and running due to the possiblity that hockey users would opt for the cheaper outdoor ice rather than DAHA indoor ice.  They don't want to give it to the city for the same reason, so they want to see it gone.  The city can't maintain it due to budget constraints.  The hockey dad types think that it would be a great place for the non-organized hockey types to play.  And it would be a great place for UMD students to play.  I'm glad to hear that you were able to fight through the red tape and use it.  I hope that means DAHA has loosened its deathgrip on the facility.

krlars

about 12 years ago

Thanks Judy- we commented at the same time.  That answers some of my questions.  I'll have to come Saturday and get the scoop.  I hope the ice making equipment can be saved, but I'm guessing after so many years of neglect that is probably impossible.  And it is a horrible, horrible shame.

Judy Gibbs

about 12 years ago

Lower Chester is a city owned facility. We have a legal lease agreement with the city, not DAHA or any other former lease holder.

Hillsider Newspaper editor

about 12 years ago

Oops, I KNOW where that is. I meant to post where on a different post that didn't list it.

Judy Gibbs

about 12 years ago

naomi, where else did you see it?

ab

about 12 years ago

Krlars, thanks, our hope would be to just flood the rink the old-school way without using the refrigeration system that is in place and doesn't work properly.  We have heard that some interested neighbors might be willing to pitch in to help and one fellow did maintain it himself several years ago but tired of it because nobody else would chip in.  

It would be one of the few rinks that does not have organized hockey so it would be open to anyone except waivers and proper safety equipment must be worn.  We currently have to wear helmets as part of our agreement to use the facility and I believe sign waivers.

@ndy

about 12 years ago

Just out of curiosity, why was the city planning to tear the building down? And what were they planning on doing with the hockey boards, etc.? Also, does anyone happen to know what happened to the zamboni that used to be used at Lower Chester?

Judy Gibbs

about 12 years ago

I am not sure where the Zamboni is ... there doesn't appear to be anything about hockey there anymore ... but I had been told when I first got involved with FOTP that the plan had been (the city) to take everything down. 

It had been sinking into the dirt on the avenue side, the front door no longer worked because the walls had cracked so bad from the sinking. 

Hockey was consolidated to Congdon and Woodland partly because the compressors, meant to be inside a building stopped functioning after being exposed to the elements. It was also consolidated partly because until last year, participants in hockey had steadily decreased, but apparently last year saw a slight increase for the first time in a number of years.

I guess the cost of heating the building was prohibitive, too, given that it was only concrete block with no insulation ... and no insulation in the ceiling.

People might want to put Nov. 10 from 6:30-8:30 in the gym at Washington Center. The Parks Master Plan will be presented. I am not sure, but I think that there was an inventory of all things park-like. In the initial plan, Lower Chester was on the list to close until FOTP stepped up and said we'd like it as our home base.

Once we did, and signed a lease with the city, the building has been mudjacked and the front door works again (but there still is a big crack in the block). It will be insulated, re-sided and re-roofed. The inside has nearly all been painted, the rubber flooring was taken out and given to the Lincoln Park Group, VCAP, who took over the 'skate shack' on 25th Avenue West their acronym stands for "volunteers caring and patrolling" and, like FOTP, are a very different organization in a building that had been traditionally a hockey center.

I know the old community center in Fond du Lac has sat empty for two years now. I hope somebody wants to breathe life into that one. It's beautiful out there.

TimK

about 12 years ago

The zamboni was stolen one night and crashed into a house in the neighborhood. Whoever stole it also dropped the blade while crossing someone's yard and completely trashed the machine. I believe it went for scrap at a city auction.

dbb

about 12 years ago

Apparently someone took that old Gear Daddies tune to heart.

mabel galvin

about 12 years ago

I don't know where that Zamboni story came from but it is not fact!  I called Kathy Bergen from Duluth Parks and Rec., and she said that Tommy Williams and "Chris" whoever-he-is had showed "them" a piece of paper that the hockey association had "gifted" the Zamboni to them.

So Tommy Williams had it in his possession.

Furthermore, everyone is busy with their lives and had no idea that the city was not in control of the park or complex.  We might have learned if we had had some kind of notification.  They know where we live!  Our homes are right across the street from the rink. It's not like we aren't interested. We've been cleaning up and fixing up for years. Come see the gardens and picnic area as well as all the trees and rose bushes planted on 15th Avenue East.

As for the rinks "days are numbered. It's old and rotten and it's going to be torn down."  There isn't anything there to rot! It's made of steel, plastic and concrete!  I understand that the cement slab is in such good shape because it was laid thicker than it normally would have because of the system underneath to cool the ice.  

Also I met a mother from another rink and she said, "You've got really good boards. Ours are wood and we have to take them down and put them back up again and have to replace broken and rotting ones."

This rink has produced many fine young people. A gold-medal Olympian as well.  I don't know why this was never displayed at the rink. 

Children need exercise not sitting in front of a computer or TV so they can vegetate and become obese.  God knows we hear enough about that.  We are not asking anyone to build a rink or anything else for us.  Just leave it alone!!! Let us have a chance to find our way as neighbors to have a place for children to recreate!

If anyone is interested in the rink, skating, or children's recreation come join us for our second meeting as a neighborhood group on Nov. 3, hopefully at the warming house at 6:30 if we do get a key. Otherwise, we will be looking to have it in the basement of Chester Park United Methodist Church.

Also, our neighborhood picnic /potluck and playday was a great success and a lot of fun. We will have another next summer but in the meantime please join us with your suggestions.  We look forward to meeting you, learning what you have to say and join the fun as Lower Chester revitalizes and grows to be the center of all kinds of activities and improvements in this area. It has been fun and promises to be so much more! I'm excited about my neighborhood!!! It will be beautiful when we get done with it. It will be the envy of the city.  Just give us a little time.

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