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Community club, hockey group shed their differences

The shed at the Piedmont Community Club will stay -- for now. All it took was a referee conference Friday morning to quickly settle what now resembles a tempest-in-a-teapot fracas over a storage shed improperly placed on city property by the Pied...

The shed at the Piedmont Community Club will stay -- for now.

All it took was a referee conference Friday morning to quickly settle what now resembles a tempest-in-a-teapot fracas over a storage shed improperly placed on city property by the Piedmont Hockey Association, the principal players said Friday.

An anonymous donor set up the 10-by-20 foot prefabricated shed around Labor Day and drew the consternation of the Piedmont Community Club, whose members operate the park and center and share it with the devoted hockey parents. In the past, both sides have clashed on occasion.

Now they have shaken hands and pledged to remove the shed in the near future -- probably by July. It will be replaced with an expansion and repairs to the center's existing garage, said Todd Kuusisto, facilities director for the neighborhood hockey group.

The two sides will work together to raise money for the job, then share the precious storage space, he said. They also want the public to know that they plan to become a model of communication and cooperation for community clubs across the city and will work hand-in-hand to make future improvements to Piedmont's aged buildings and grounds, Kuusisto said.

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"This can really be a Cinderella story. Everyone is ready to roll up their sleeves to help the kids," Parks and Recreation Director Carl Seehus said. "Hopefully, this will no longer divide a community. They just didn't understand how each organization worked. Now, everyone is on the same page and they have joined forces."

But nobody was ever offended in any way, said Dan Backen, president of the community club. He thinks the issue was inaccurately portrayed as a squabble.

"We wanted to make sure that things are being done right, and going from there," he said.

Citywide community centers -- such as Piedmont's --have struggled for years to make improvements or even keep up with maintenance as the parks department and city face slimmer budgets.

Seehus called a meeting for Friday, just prior to a city-imposed deadline to remove the $2,500 shed. Until then, the club and association had barely spoken to each other on the issue.

The over-eager donor put up the shed before all the proper requests and permits were filled out with the city and before the community club was properly notified. Kuusisto said he was among those surprised to find it there.

The shed was donated to make room in the adjacent garage for a Zamboni that the hockey association purchased last year. Part of the compromise was clearing up a misconception with the community club that the shed was for hockey association use only, Kuusisto said.

Seehus said he hopes to get the remodeling approved by as soon as next week. They already have a grant from Home Depot that will help, he said.

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Staff writer Jana Hollingsworth contributed to this report.

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