Duluth mayor pushes moving Congdon Park ice rinks to Ordean EastMayor Don Ness said Thursday he plans to push for “strong consideration” of his idea to move the Congdon Park ice rinks up Hawthorne Road to the field at Ordean East Middle School.
By: Jana Hollingsworth, Duluth News Tribune
Mayor Don Ness said Thursday he plans to push for “strong consideration” of his idea to move the Congdon Park ice rinks up Hawthorne Road to the field at Ordean East Middle School.
Ness said earlier this week that the city could offer $100,000 from the parks and recreation levy approved last fall to help build new rinks and a warming shack on a different part of the Congdon school site.
On Thursday, he said he had received lots of positive feedback to the Ordean East idea, which he suggested at a Tuesday meeting about the Congdon site.
“Given the logistical problems, the ongoing conflict and additional costs of making this happen at the Congdon site, I would have a hard time justifying the city’s financial involvement to the plans I’ve seen, given those costs,” Ness said. “The middle school solution saves money, and the design of Congdon can be focused on the experience of the kids in the school.”
Current plans for the Congdon site include building retaining walls and a new shack, additional site work, a smaller parking lot and adding artificial turf. The Congdon site work could end up costing $1 million between the district, the city and the community.
Ordean East has the space, turf and bleachers, but would need a shack. The costs for a shack and things such as a turf cover and hockey boards would fall to the community, as it would at the Congdon site. But the district expense of retaining walls and the community/city-funded expense of turf would be eliminated. The district already owns lighting that could be used.
“Building the warming house at the football field (at Ordean East) would make the facility useful all year-round for track, football, soccer and hockey,” Ness said. “It’s hard for me to see the downside.”
One downside that has been mentioned is installing lights in a neighborhood where they haven’t existed before.
Superintendent Bill Gronseth said Thursday that the Ordean East option is being explored with staff, architects and engineers working on the Congdon project.
“Hopefully, we’ll have enough information soon to make a more-informed decision on the viability of that site,” he said. “In the end, I want to make a decision that’s right for the school district, the city and for the people who use that space for a variety of reasons.”
Gronseth would like that decision to be made before the Congdon plans go before the School Board for a vote Feb. 28.
“However, if the hockey group were to decide they would like the rink somewhere else, it doesn’t have an effect on what we’re doing on the Congdon site,” he said, because the rink space would be replaced with grassy fields for soccer and softball and perhaps one pleasure rink. “The board would still be able to vote and we’d be able to move forward with other plans.”
Rink supporters, who aren’t happy with the new Congdon site plan because it requires them to raise at least $300,000, said Tuesday the Ordean East site also would require a large amount of fundraising.
But with a Congdon rink plan with a possible $1 million price tag, Ness said, “district staff should give this option serious consideration.”