Wilmette Resident: 'There are More People Who Would Love Outdoor Winter Recreation"

The following is a letter to the editor from a Wilmette resident regarding the proposed Thornwood Park ice rink.

The following is a letter to the editor from Wilmette resident Kara McAlister. Like Wilmette-Kenilworth Patch on Facebook to join the discussion.

In response to the letter about a I would like to disagree with that assumption!! Unfortunately, it seems that the "letter," that went out regarding a recreational rink in Thornwood Park has been misread and misinterpreted. The letter that I read and received from the Park District is a proposal and states that in a "preliminary review of this request (for an ice rink in ) , based on its experience, has identified issues . . . and would like to solicit your input as a neighbor." They, then, go on to list several concerns about temporary structures which will be temporary!

The Park District finishes the letter by inviting you to attend a meeting to voice your concerns and help collaborate to make it amicable for all. It would be great to have a conversation about it and be open-minded to something that is not yet set in stone.

Earlier: Read more about the proposed Thornwood Park ice rink debate.

We have lived across from the park for almost eight years and have said every year how great it would be to have ice skating in the winter. It is an amazing space and we have wished we could drag our hose across to make a rink. We have often seen kids out there trying to skate on frozen melted snow. Luckily, for us, our wonderful park district has offered to flood it for us. This will be a temporary, two month structure in the dead of winter. It will provide an opportunity for us to get outside in the winter, excerise, breathe fresh air and have fun. The idea of errant pucks from pond hockey is a little extreme. I could be hit by an errant baseball during baseball season, but, I look where I am going or I don't walk right across the outfield.

I spent most of my childhood figure skating both on indoor rinks and ponds. I also played a fair share of pond hockey games. Why not let kids in our neighborhood have that same entertainment? We love living on the park!!! We enjoy and welcome the baseball games, tennis, soccer games, birthday parties, badminton, Thornwood Park concerts, doggie playdates and other events that take place at our neighborhood, PUBLIC, park. All of these other seasonal activities are perfect and although, I don't play tennis or baseball, or have a dog, I am not opposed to letting others enjoy it. 

The idea of the ice rink, which will not have any permanent structures, is for a short time in our long, cold winters to let families ice skate and play pick-up hockey. There will need to be some type of lights because it is dark around 4:30 p.m. in Chicago.

The lights can be low to the ground and we can discuss at the meeting an ideal time frame. It doesn't have to be just hockey, but, nice for the kids to play a game or two during designated hockey times. It will not have organized teams or lessons and most kids have homework and other sports. I am sure it will end up being the die-hard winter people who are out there. We are not asking for full-size boards with crazy puck acoustics. How many of you have your doors and windows open in the winter? I think people are thinking of summer sports and the crowds. Winter is not quite like that around here and is a prime example. This is pick-up, neighborhood pond hockey not the Wilmette Baseball program!!! There aren't going to be stands for "spectators!" I mean "asthetics?" When has the Park District in our northshore community done anything to hurt property values. It is for two months and will be done tastefully. Really?

I think there are more people who would love outdoor winter recreation. Kenilworth gardens is a great community who would only embrace another fantastic park activity!!! Let's at least give it a try and have fun.

Who knows, maybe it will lead to a Harper Mom's Precision Skating Team?!

Wilmette Resident September 08, 2011 at 03:23 PM
In reading the letters related this proposal, it seems that what is needed is a transparent planning process, including justification for spending money on this particular project over other potential projects. In the WPD meeting minutes and letter to the residents, it's not clear if the current rink at West Park is under-utilized because of the location or if there is merely not enough interest to support multiple outdoor skating rinks in the winter. If it's lack of interest, than why would we spend money to test out the hypothesis in another location? If there's a desire for outdoor hockey, why not just convert one of the other existing rinks? Isn't there a rink at Mallinckrodt that is practically around the corner? I don't live near Thornwood Park and would not be materially affected by the installation of a rink in that location, but in my opinion, the WPD has an obligation to all of the residents of Wilmette to clearly demonstrate why funds should be appropriated to this project over others.
Wilmette voter September 09, 2011 at 09:49 PM
An ice rink with lights already exists for the neighbors in Kenilworth Gardens at Mallinckrodt. I think it would be great to allow both pond hockey and recreational skating at Mallinckrodt. By doing so the Park District would save the $17,000 it would cost to create a hockey rink at Thornwood Park and the $10,000 it would cost to annually to maintain it.
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