The city’s Board of Estimates will consider amendments to the 2010 operating budget today, including an amendment that restores funding for the maintenance of some public ice rinks.
The amendment proposes adding $38,000 to the budget to fund land, heating of some shelters and workers to maintain rinks.
The Parks Department original proposed removing funding for the maintenance of rinks at Olbrich Botanical Gardens, Goodman Community Center, Garner Park, Westmorland Park and Warner Park. The other three ice rinks run by the city ‘ those at Vilas, Tenney and Elver parks are unaffected by the cuts.
The amendment was proposed in response to the usual ice rink funding being cut from the operating budget. The mayor has proposed having local neighborhood groups take over ice rink maintenance for the rinks so they will no longer need any city funding.
“I think that the mayor’s ideas of trying to reduce the expenses for ice rink maintenance is a good one,” said Ald. Satya Rhodes-Conway, District 12, a sponsor of the amendment. “But I don’t think it’s a good idea to spring it on the neighborhoods like this.”
Another amendment sponsor Ald. Shiva Bidar-Sielaff, District 5, stressed the importance of the ice-rinks as outdoor public space during the winter.
“I think that they provide a great place for people to get out during the winter and exercise and create a really good community place,” Bidar-Sielaff said. “And there’s not many places in the winter where people can be outside.”
Both Bidar-Sielaff and Rhodes-Conway said they believe cutting funding for ice rinks may be something that will happen in a few years, but now is not the time.
They want to try a program where residents of the neighborhoods as well as users of the ice rinks will be more involved with maintenance.
According to Rhodes-Conway, this year would be used to see how much neighborhoods in Madison can assist with the funding, as well as to gather data on what kind of resources are required to keep ice rinks running.
“I think we’dj be better off working over the next year to … see how much the neighborhoods can contribute and are willing to contribute,” Rhodes-Conway said. “And also to look at the way we establish the rinks, how much water we use, etc.”
Rhodes-Conway went on to say by using this year to find out these things it would be easier to find an appropriate amount of money to cut from the budget next year.
Both Rhodes-Conway and Bidar-Sielaff are optimistic about the mayor’s office being willing to add this money back into the budget.
“He, like all of us, has gotten a lot of feedback from our constituents about how important these ice rinks are, so I hope that he would be listening to that,” Rhodes-Conway said.
Rhodes-Conway went on to say both she and the mayor have the same ultimate goal — to save money and keep the rinks maintained.
The mayor’s office could not be reached for comment.