The Ottumwa Courier

Local News

October 12, 2011

Roller skating rink brought to attention of parks board

OTTUMWA — An idea for a roller skating rink is in the brainstorming stage.

At Tuesday’s Parks Advisory Board meeting, Jody Bresch presented her proposal for the rink after discussion generated on the Facebook page “Ottumwa, we love Ottumwa.”

“People are nostalgic and sentimental about the old skating rink by the [Ottumwa Regional] Airport,” Bresch said.

The proposal suggested either an outdoor skating rink in one of Greater Ottumwa Park’s shelter houses or raising enough funds to build a shelter house designed specifically for this idea.

Since the Facebook post began, though, discussion has turned to both a roller skating rink and an ice skating rink.

“In my opinion, we can have as little or as much as we are willing to invest the effort to develop something,” Bresch said.

The board debated that using one of the park’s shelters would not be feasible considering how much they are used for class and family reunions and the Ottumwa Pro Balloon Races.

“The weekends are pretty well shot,” said Board President Bob Beisch.

Parks Director Gene Rathje suggested building a separate facility that could house ice skating in the winter and roller skating in the summer.

Beisch’s main concern was whether there was enough community interest and whether a rink would even be used if one were to be built.

Councilman Brian Morgan suggested board members take a few trips up to the Spinnin’ Wheels Skate Center in Oskaloosa to observe its size, how it functions and how often it’s used.

Other ideas presented were to section off the multi-purpose exposition hall in Bridge View Center, one being used for roller skating; or to put a rink just east of the Ottumwa Skatepark that could be used for both roller skating and ice skating.

The board told Bresch to organize a committee before the next board meeting and Rathje said he would research the idea further.

The board will recommend to the Ottumwa City Council to establish an ordinance that while motorcycles and ATVs are not allowed in the park system, they are allowed on bodies of water other than the Ottumwa Park pond, the larger pond that contains the lighthouse.

Rathje said the ponds will see ice fishing all winter after the trout stocking Friday, but the water has dropped to extremely low levels due to dry weather.

“There are lots of exposed rocks and underwater mounds that I’m concerned about,” Rathje said. “They could cause injuries or cause the motorcycles or ATVs to flip. It’s not smooth ice all the way around.”

Board member Sarah Sels said having fishermen and ATVs on the same pond is an “accident waiting to happen.”

Rick Canode, owner of RJ Performance, spoke up, saying he would like to see rules established as to where motorcycles and ATVs are allowed.

If the ordinance is approved, motorcycles and ATVs would still be allowed on the two oxbows and the stretch of water under Wapello Street.

Councilman Bob Meyers said many people enjoy walking through the parks, as well, and “don’t want to be dodging ATVs.”

Board member Sarah Sels said signs also need to be erected at the pond establishing who is and is not allowed to use it.

“What we want to do is help everyone enjoy the park without stepping on the rights or safety of others,” Sels said.

The board also reviewed a revised policy regarding how the city accepts gifts and donations.

The item that drew the most discussion was “Gifts and donations that appear to be controversial because of association with a particular group, object or segment of the population may be rejected by the Ottumwa Parks Advisory Board.”

Because of the peace pole dedication on Sept. 11, Beisch said “we’ll never please everybody.

“We’re never going to get a consensus on some of this stuff. The problem with the peace pole is that it tapped into religion.”

Morgan recalled when it was voted that Central Park would be renamed Pac-Man Park for a period of time and how it offended military veterans because of the presence of the war memorial.

The discussion of the final location of the peace pole was tabled.

The board’s next meeting is scheduled for Nov. 8.

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