The rink that Mark built is no more.
Piles of wood and wiring and dirt were all that remained of the Merritt Park hockey rink in West Duluth on Thursday.
The city of Duluth announced last week that the adjacent Merritt Community Center soon would be demolished. It didn’t mention the outdoor rink, and city spokesperson Kate Van Daele on Wednesday initially said she was surprised that the rink already had been taken down.
She later clarified in an email, stating, "The city and the community club agreed that the boards around the hockey rink are beyond repair. Per the community club's request, the city agreed to remove the boards as a part of the demolition process.”
In a separate statement, Parks and Recreation project technician Theresa Bajda spoke of the demolition plans for the community center, saying they aligned with the 2010 parks and recreation master plan “which values quality over quantity in park recreation centers.”
“Parks staff is really excited to begin the collaborative design process for future improvements at Merritt Park,” the statement continued. “Design conversations will begin in the late fall with (implementation) beginning in the summer of 2020.”
The city’s previous announcement said neighborhood residents would begin seeing heavy equipment arriving next week for demolition of the community center.
According to a News Tribune story earlier this year, local hockey legend Mark Sertich got the Merritt Park rink built after returning to Duluth from serving in World War II in 1945. Sertich — still involved in the local hockey scene this year at 97 — had done much of the legwork to secure funding and materials, then went around the neighborhood to recruit youngsters, who he would coach, according to that story.