Maintenance woes at Ridgeland Common continue for Oak Park park district

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By Megan Dooley

Staff Reporter

The staff at the Ridgeland Common ice arena are still struggling to keep up with facility repairs, which seem to be popping up faster than maintenance crews can tackle them.

Three employees presented the Park District of Oak Park Board of Commissioners with the annual ice rink operations report for 2010-2011 at a May 5 meeting of the board.

According to Bill Hamilton, the assistant superintendent of revenue facilities, the rink opened 10 days late this season because one of the three condensers, critical to the ice arena's cooling system, needed to be replaced. When the replacement was completed, it was discovered that the other two condensers in the system were also in poor condition and need replacement.

Hamilton reported that the arena's dehumidification system, which failed at the end of the 2009-2010 season, has been replaced, along with the HVAC unit used to heat the customer service and facilities staff offices.

Jenny Berni, the aquatics and rink programs manager, said the facility upkeep called for some internal reorganization. "Prior to the start up of the rink season this year, we reworked some job responsibilities," she said. Michael Lushniak, the assistant manager of aquatic and rink programs, was also given some responsibility for rink operations. "That helped give the operations manager the opportunity to keep up with the repairs and the state of the facility," she said, as well as getting ahead on some summer projects that will make the transition from pools to rink somewhat smoother.

In terms of programming, the report showed that for the third season in a row, program participation has increased substantially. Registration was also up this year for the annual ice show, which took place on March 18, 19 and 20, an indication of the quality of the program and the dedication skaters have to this show, Berni said.

Also included in the report was the annual revenue from rink operations, projected at nearly $768,000, or some $100,000 more than the budget estimate. Expenses are projected at $670,000, about three percent higher than the original amount budgeted. According to the report, a number of factors contributed to the high expenses, including property repair costs, which were 25 percent over budgeted amounts.

In other business, the park district discussed contributing $1,000 for the Fourth of July fireworks show, which will take place on Monday, July 4 on the grounds of Oak Park and River Forest High School.

The park board was also asked to consider making the Oak Park-River Forest Youth Football program an affiliate organization. Matthew Ellmann, superintendent of recreation, said that the football program is asking for a very limited amount of time, and their request should be considered.

"The reality is our affiliate program is not limited to who's already there," Ellmann said, and that the board should always be open to the possibility of adding more affiliates.

Reader Comments

3 Comments - Add Your Comment

Comment Policy

Another Resident  

Posted: May 13th, 2011 3:32 PM

This is even more reason why the Park District needs to tear down Ridgeland, as it exists now, and replace it with a brand new building that will allow for expanded programming! There is an increase in demand for all classes, but no space to put anything! Bring the Visionary Plan back to the table so there can be a year-round pool, outdoor seasonal pool, year-round rink, and much more!

OP Resident  

Posted: May 13th, 2011 11:28 AM

This is the legacy of John Hedge's tenure as head of the Oak Park Park District. He deferred maintenance at Ridgeland Common and Rehm pool for years. Instead of using tax dollars to replace aging equipment, Hedges sank millions into a health club at Oak Park Hospital. That boondoggle failed and now we're stuck with the bill.

Dana Ginsberg from Oak Park  

Posted: May 11th, 2011 9:59 AM

http://www.rcice.org/ This site was put up three years ago. It used to have a message board, but it got cluttered with spam. Aside from that, I live only five minutes from the Ice Rink. I really miss skating and performing in the ice shows there.

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