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Jeer to city for refusing to staff rink's warming house

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opinion Detroit Lakes,Minnesota 56501
Detroit Lakes Online
Jeer to city for refusing to staff rink's warming house
Detroit Lakes Minnesota 511 Washington Avenue 56501

A big, fat raspberry jeer to the city of Detroit Lakes for refusing to staff the Lincoln Rink warming house this winter, and for only putting up one hockey pen.


Just because the rink is moving to Peoples Park next year is no reason to skimp on it this year.

The city says it can't afford to staff the warming house, and is calling for volunteers to do the job for free.

By our calculations, the warming house could be staffed 48 hours a week -- 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. weekdays and noon to 9 p.m. weekends, for three months -- at a cost of less than $5,000. That's paying a part-timer $8 an hour, with no benefits.

There are probably expenses we don't know about. The city paid about $7,000 for part-time help at the ice rink this year.

With revenues of more than $5 million this year, it boggles the mind that the city can't find $7,000 to staff the warming house.

There should probably be more than one rink and warming house in town, but there needs to be one at a minimum, and it needs to be staffed.

Most people agree it's good for kids to be outdoors and it's good for them to be getting exercise.

If only there was some sport that combined the two to make it fun for kids to get exercise out-of-doors.

Oh, that's right. We have that. It's called skating.

It gets cold in the wintertime in Minnesota, and leaving benches outside the locked warming house just doesn't cut it.

The number of kids using Lincoln Rink went way down earlier this year, after the city fired its part-time warming house staff to save money.

The city can talk all it wants about budget cuts and revenue shortfalls, but if you look at where the actual cuts have fallen, you can see it's the parks and recreation department that's taken the brunt of it -- and that's been passed on to kids and families.

In a $5 million budget, there must be a few other places the city can come up with $7,000.

How about the nearly $700,000 sitting in the airport improvement fund?

Could we spare 1 percent of that for the kids?

Don't want to touch the airport money? How about dropping out of the League of Minnesota Cities for a year? That would save almost $7,000 in membership dues.

The city has nearly $2 million in undesignated reserves. Maybe it could cut loose $7,000 from there.

Say what you want. Where you spend your money shows your priorities, and it's bone-headed to cut a service that so many people enjoy for such an extended time at relatively little cost.