Devils Lake Park Board denies request for lower ice rates

Mike Bellmore, Features Editor

Burdick Arena occupied the bulk of the discussion at Wednesday night’s monthly meeting of the Devils Lake Park Board.

A number of representatives from high school hockey, hockey boosters, the skating club and others were on hand to request lower summer ice rates at Burdick Arena from the Park Board.

Jay Schiendele, President of the Blue Line Club, presented the board with a list of figures he had compiled citing reasons for a possible reduction in rates.

“We’re not looking to make money,” he said. “We’re looking to get more kids involved. We want to make it affordable for the kids.”

Rick LaFleur then read a letter from Allan Thompson, who helped with the construction of Burdick Arena and its funding over 30 years ago.

“We want to give kids an opportunity,” he insisted.

Park Board President Joe Mertens then replied that the Board has set the lowest summer ice rates in the state and made over $700,000 in improvements to the Arena in recent years.

“We feel our prices are reasonable,” he retorted. “They were a couple of years ago and they are now.”

Schiendele said the summer ice people simply want people on the ice and said he would be willing to do a partnership with the Board.

Park Board Superintendent Terry Wallace told those in attendance the idea isn’t to make money because the cost of the refurbished arena still has to be paid.

LaFleur came back with the idea of looking at what’s best for youth and possibly looking at what the costs would be for a year.

The bantering continued back and forth until Commissioner Mark Hendrickson urged the board to keep the rates where they are and let the meeting move on.

“I’m  looking at the best interests of the taxpayer and I feel our mill levies are too high as well,” he said. “With the flooding issues and everything else going on, we need to keep it where we’re at. I’m comfortable with what we have in place.”

That prompted a rather angry response from some of those in attendance who then left the meeting.

The last time Devils Lake had summer ice was in 2004-2005 because the price has been deemed too high by some.

In old business, Wallace talked of a possible design for an activities building at Ruger Park.

In other business, the board approved its pledge of securities and designated its depositors and named the Devils Lake Journal its official newspaper.

Bills were approved and commissioner portfolios heard.

The next Devils Lake Park Board meeting will be Wednesday, Feb. 16 at 5:15 p.m. in the City Offices.