The Record: Skating again
I am delighted that the John T. Wright Arena’s soft opening has had such an out pouring of enthusiastic skaters!
Please see below the article in today’s 1/5/14 Record:
ICE SKATING is back in Englewood. A soft opening was held at the John T. Wright Arena just over a year after Superstorm Sandy destroyed the ice rink’s roof, adding to the aging facility’s existing woes. Mayor Frank Huttle said on his website, englewoodone.com, on Dec. 26, that he was “delighted that dozens came out” that day to the first public skating sessions. The session seemed to have a diverse crowd. After everything that transpired in the last year, that’s a good sign. Huttle formed a task force last spring to give the council a recommendation on the rink’s future. The rink is located at the edge of MacKay Park in Englewood’s largely working-class 4th Ward. Over the years, many residents have voiced displeasure that the facility only seemed to serve the more affluent residents and out-of-towners who rent ice time for hockey teams. They want improvements made to MacKay Park along with a community center. We urged the city when the task force was being formed to consider the needs of the entire community. The mayor himself said he would not support reopening the rink unless it becomes a place that welcomed all of Englewood. Huttle sent the council a memo in July saying the task force recommended that the city repair the rink, “provided the facility be used in ways that provide affordable, all-season recreational options and educational opportunities to all of Englewood’s residents, in particular our children.” The enthusiasm at the opening provides hope the facility can accomplish that. However, while the initial focus has been on getting the rink operational, concrete plans for making it a beneficial resource to all the city’s children haven’t been seen yet. Some residents created a nonprofit fundraising group called Friends of the John T. Wright Arena to help with the operational costs. The group also organized a drive for used hockey equipment and uniforms for children who can’t afford them. The rink will offer public skating sessions in the after-school hours during the week and afternoons in the weekends. The efforts of Friends of the John T. Wright Arena to make a sport like hockey more affordable are encouraging. As the city still needs to hire a permanent rink operator and make more repairs, we know officials are aware that there is work left to be done in the coming months. Reopening the rink should benefit residents with another recreational activity and local businesses with increased foot traffic. We just hope the city continues to follow through on the task force’s call for developing “affordable, all-season recreational options and educational opportunities to all of Englewood’s residents.”
Mayor Frank Huttle III
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