Mayor Ness Offers Solution to Congdon Park Rinks

By KBJR News 1

February 10, 2012 Updated Feb 10, 2012 at 7:30 PM CDT

DULUTH, MN (Northland's NewsCenter) - Duluth Mayor Don Ness has stepped into the Congdon rink controversy proposing a new idea to keep ice rinks and space for safe pick-up and drop-off.

In the past few weeks, a committee of stakeholders has been working to come up with a solution to balance recreation space with safe pick-up and expanded gym space.

"Neighbors here, PTA, hockey, soccer, softball, architects and everyone from the school side," said Sara Vallie, a parent, listing off the

Parents and sports leaders got involved when they heard the green space and rinks could be in jeopardy.

"My oldest is now here and I hope to raise all three kids knowing the importance of healthy outdoor spaces families can use, not just school children," said Vallie.

The committee's plan shows a smaller version of the existing ice rinks at Congdon to accommodate other needs like safe pick-up and drop off.

"Everything gets squeezed in there and it's both inconvenient and much more expensive," said Duluth Mayor Don Ness.

Mayor Ness believes he may have a solution, only a few blocks up the hill at Ordean East Middle School.

"At the Middle School site you'd have those, that three rink complex, so you'd have the larger ice rink, the smaller for the smaller kids and the pleasure rink all right on that site," said Ness.

Mayor Ness says the cost of the project could be cheaper, because the artificial turf already exists and could handle a rink, as well as bleachers on the sides.

"Then down at Congdon, you could still have a pleasure rink there," said Ness.

It's not only a plan Ness is proposing, he also said City Park Funds could help with the project.

"Maybe it's for the plastic sheeting or maybe it's to help build the community center, the warming shack, as we've done in other neighborhoods," said Ness.

Ness hopes it's a plan the committee will consider to keep skates laced-up for a fraction of the cost.

One school board member who's attended the meetings says she's happy with either the committee's or the Mayor's plan.

The school board could vote on the Congdon site plans at the February 28 meeting.

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