Neighbors Work Together to Create Ice Rink
Residents spent hours flooding Cahill Square Park.
When Village Hall postponed the creation of an ice rink at Cahill Square Park, a group of neighboring residents took the initiative to flood the park and create the rink themselves.
As a result, residents are enjoying a longer skating season and the village's Department of Public Works can focus on its other duties.
"We were persistent about it and they've allowed us to do something great for the kids," said Mark Szumski, a board member of the Whitefish Bay Civic Foundation and an area resident who helped flood the park. "This year we were really on the ball."
Whitefish Bay has become a great place for area skaters to enjoy time on the ice within walking distance of their homes at both Klode and Cahill parks. But it wasn't always that way.
A few years ago, Klode Park held the only rink in the area until Szumski heard from his wife, a lifelong resident, that there had always been two rinks when she was a little girl — one at Klode and one at Cahill.
After discussing the idea of bringing back a local rink, a group of residents near Cahill approached the Village Board, which narrowly voted to approve the rink's construction.
"We won by a one-vote margin," Szumski said. "They decided to flood both rinks and see how it went."
It went well in terms of community response, but the village had to postpone the flooding until January because of normal DPW duties. Interim Village Manager Matt Schuenke said weather also played a factor.
"It's difficult to make it work in December because we're preparing the snow plows," Schuenke said. "And around the holidays, our staff is on double pickup for garbage and recycling collection."
Szumski said that he and other neighbors saw an easy solution to the problem. The residents had already learned how to flood and maintain the rink last year when DPW workers were busy with snow removal. This year, the group approached the village early and was granted permission to take over the flooding duties entirely.
"We took advantage of the cold weather and flooded a few weeks before Christmas," Szumski said. "We wanted the kids to be able to skate over winter break."
As for those families who live nearer to Klode Park, Schuenke said the DPW will take care of that rink soon.
"Should the weather cooperate as we get into the New Year, it should be up and running fairly quickly," Schuenke said. "So people can go to either rink."
Back at the Cahill rink, skaters were enjoying the work of their neighbors until this weekend when warm weather began to melt the ice.
Szumski isn't too worried though, he said. It's Wisconsin and the cold will surely return.