Decision delayed on future of Crooked Lake School rinks

The Andover Parks and Recreation Commission April 4 delayed a decision on whether to close the hockey and skating rinks at Crooked Lake Elementary School.This is the second time that the commission has tabled action. It last put this issue on hold Feb. 21.

Crooked Lake School has one hockey rink (shown) and a separate free skating rink. The city of Andover may close these rinks starting next winter because of ongoing maintenance problems, but the youth hockey association is concerned about losing the warming house (shown), which the school owns and will continue using for storage. File photo by Eric Hagen

Crooked Lake School has one hockey rink (shown) and a separate free skating rink. The city of Andover may close these rinks starting next winter because of ongoing maintenance problems, but the youth hockey association is concerned about losing the warming house (shown), which the school owns and will continue using for storage. File photo by Eric Hagen

“I’m not prepared to close the rinks down unless we have another home for them,” said Commissioner Mark Miskowiec.

Todd Haas, assistant public works director, said the city has had problems with drainage and snow removal on the site for some time, so he is concerned about keeping this facility open another winter.

“It’s a struggle for the guys to maintain those rinks,” Haas said.

On the other hand, the Andover Huskies Youth Hockey Association Ice Director Mike Antilla would like the city to have a plan to replace the Crooked Lake School rinks and warming house at another park before closing them.

Rose Park or Fox Meadows Park are potential spots for a new hockey rink, Haas said, but the commission needs more time to evaluate the parks five-year capital improvement budget. Haas indicated that it would be difficult to get new permanent rinks and a warming house constructed at either of these parks in time for next winter. The city would first want to talk to the neighbors first and then there would be the review process through the parks commission and city council and then getting survey work done, permits pulled and city crews would have to find the time to build all this.

Crooked Lake Elementary School opened in 1968 and once had a sewer settling pond surrounded by a chain link fence next to it. Wayne and Rosie Davis, who still near live the school, were on the school’s parent-teacher organization (PTO) when it started fundraising for a skating area and warming house in the early 1980s, Wayne said.

Wayne said he and another neighbor maintained the rinks for a couple more years before the city’s public works crews agreed to take over.

There was talk about closing the rinks a few years ago and there were fewer rinks in the city then. The city in recent years built two new hockey rinks and a warming house just west of Andover City Hall. It also kept two rinks at Hawk Ridge Park that it once considered scrapping until the neighborhood asked the council not to close them.

Hawk Ridge Park is currently not leased by the Andover Huskies Youth Hockey Association and it could be a temporary location the association uses, Haas said.

The problem with that site and with the Prairie Knoll Park rink the association also uses is there are no accompanying warming houses, only small trailers.

While hockey association president Mark Chevalier told the city in a Feb. 21 email that his board understands the challenges the city faces with ice quality at Crooked Lake school, losing a warming house would be a significant issue. The rinks west of city hall are the only other location that has a warming house with an actual foundation.

Crooked Lake School owns the warming house and would keep it for storage, according to Principal Cheryl Kortuem. Losing the rinks themselves was not a huge issue for the school because the students do not have time to use them during recess, she noted.

Eric Hagen is at eric.hagen@ecm-inc.com

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