October 13, 2009 8:10 AM
As we all know, this is the most challenging budget environment in decades, so we need to make some hard decisions. But to the greatest extent possible, we should try to be creative about it, turning these budget lemons into lemonade. In this case, very cold lemonade.
My budget does not specifically call out any rinks for closure. The City of Madison currently operates ten ice rinks at city parks. Of these, we actively maintain seven rinks. The Parks Department, in their budget submittal to me, suggested that they might discontinue maintenance at five additional infrequently used rinks for a savings of $63,000. In my budget proposal I reduced that cut to $38,000 and requested that the Parks Department and Commission develop a new partnership with neighborhoods to adopt a rink. This works very well in my own neighborhood, where neighbors around Hillington Green have maintained a rink for the last several years. I don't skate, lacking the needed coordination, but I'm told that this is some of the best ice in the city.
Then, our city crews can focus more on the remaining rinks under direct city management. After all, you can't skate on bad ice, so wouldn't it be better to have a handful of really well groomed rinks than dozens of patches of rough ice? The idea is to use the current budget situation to come up with a creative plan to actually improve what we've got and save some money as well.