The Madison Parks Division recently hailed its new "adopt-an-ice-rink" program as a huge success (see Madison.gov, 11/4/10). But those claims were quickly criticized as not being the whole story.
"The Westmorland rink was fantastic. It went extremely well," says Bill Provencher, a lifelong skater. "The ice was better there than it's ever been in the 20 years I've been skating on it. I hesitate to say this because I don't want everyone to come there."
But at other rinks, he says, the ice quality has suffered.
The adopt-a-rink program was started last year to stave off possible rink closures by getting volunteers to help with maintenance. Provencher says the program has succeeded at rinks where an organized neighborhood association stepped up to help, in part because the groups were trained on how to spray down the ice and given equipment.
But at other rinks, where maintenance fell to a hodgepodge of volunteers, the program has been less successful. "My sense is people step forward on these rinks and shovel off a couple of inches of snow," says Provencher, "but they're not much better for it, because the city is responsible for hosing them off, and the city doesn't hose at night."
Laura Whitmore, spokeswoman for the Parks Division, agrees the Westmorland rink was extremely successful, and says the city hopes to use that model at other rinks, including at Olbrich Park and the city's two new rinks, at Nakoma and Heritage Heights.
Two meetings will be held next week on the city's volunteer program. Those interested in volunteering at rinks on the city's west side should go to the Goodman Park maintenance facility, 1402 Wingra Creek Parkway, on Dec. 9 at 7 p.m.; those interested in any east-side parks should go to the Messiah Lutheran Church, 5202 Cottage Grove Rd., on Dec. 13 at 7 p.m.