Bergen Record Editorial on the John T. Wright Ice Arena
I have pasted below an Editorial written by The Record on the John T. Wright Ice Arena.
It was published on June 14, 2013.
Mayor Frank Huttle
The Record: On the front burner
Friday June 14, 2013, 8:02 AM
GOVERNING a city as economically diverse as Englewood certainly has its challenges. Within the city’s approximately 5 square miles is a mix of working-, middle- and upper-class families with different concerns for their quality of life.
With officials now debating the fate of the city’s ice rink, the John T. Wright Arena, it’s important for them to consider the concerns of all residents and neighborhoods. Having an ice rink can be a great attraction for a city, but the well-being of all residents must be the priority in Englewood.
Mayor Frank Huttle wants to put together a 15-member task force to help the City Council decide the future of the rink, which has been closed since Superstorm Sandy destroyed the roof. A task force of that size can be unwieldy, but on the plus side, having 15 members can bring passionate debate and diverse opinion. We hope it also will help create a plan that can truly benefit the city.
There are a variety of opinions on the landmark’s value.
Many people in the largely working-class 4th Ward, where the rink is located, feel it serves only wealthy city residents along with out-of-towners who rent ice time for hockey teams. They want the city to focus instead on improving the facilities at MacKay Park, which surrounds the rink. Many residents would also like the city to build a community center to provide children with more things to do. Suggestions have included turning the rink property into that type of center or using a former elementary school a block away from the park that is now boarded up.
Others say the rink should be preserved and want the city to make the necessary repairs — which include more than just the roof — to get the facility operating again. But the mayor says he would not support reopening the rink unless it becomes a place that welcomed all of Englewood.
That could be a challenge, especially as the city’s budget is already limited and tentative plans are for the city to refurbish the rink by borrowing money. Still, this is an endeavor officials should embrace with genuine effort as they determine their priorities.
If the city is to spend a large sum of money, it should be on a project with broad appeal. The city needs to invest in its youth, and an ice rink alone isn’t enough. Like all cities, Englewood has issues with crime. The job of the mayor’s task force should be to focus on developing effective programs and resources for local children. That means a refurbished ice rink, but could also mean improved facilities at MacKay Park.
There aren’t many municipalities with their own ice rinks. Englewood has a valuable resource. And it should make sure it uses that resource to benefit the entire community.