Madison closed eight ice skating rinks for the season last weekend, including five that had been on the chopping block earlier in the season.
In the fall of 2009, Mayor Dave Cieslewicz proposed closing several ice skating rinks to save an estimated $38,000 in water and maintenance costs. In response, many alders supported an amendment to restore this funding.
The Madison Parks Division was able to open the rinks after the city’s financial committee approved the amendment in late October.
This winter, the Parks Division opened ice skating rinks at Tenney, Vilas, Westmorland, Elver, Olbrich, Warner, Garner and Goodman parks.
The Parks Division also maintains cross-country skiing trails. Trail passes are available through the department. A news release from the department stated these trails will be groomed as late in the season as weather permits.
In addition to trails and rinks, the department also has six sledding hills throughout the city.
Ald. Shiva Bidar-Sielaff, District 5, told The Badger Herald earlier this year that ice skating rinks represent an important part of public space during winter months.
In response to the possible funding cuts, the Parks Division introduced a new volunteer-based community program.
Steve Doniger is the park’s community service manager. He coordinated the program in its introductory year.
Doniger said hundreds of volunteers registered to participate in Adopt Ice this winter. Volunteers primarily helped with shoveling city ice rinks, although some helped with flooding to create ice.
“It was a phenomenal success,” Doniger said. Each neighborhood had an ice captain. The ice captain coordinated volunteers in the neighborhood, communicating mainly via e-mail when help was needed.
Adopt Ice is entirely volunteer-run and was of no cost to the city.
Doniger said they are looking to expand the program next year. He added volunteers could stay involved with the Parks Division through many summer program opportunities with local neighborhood groups.