Boosters thousands of dollars short on locker rooms for Park hockey teamsYou’d think the Park Hockey Booster Club would be worry-free these days, what with Cottage Grove’s gleaming new ice arena addition well on its way toward being completed by the beginning of October. But you’d be wrong.
By: Jon Avise, South Washington County Bulletin
You’d think the Park Hockey Booster Club would be worry-free these days, what with Cottage Grove’s gleaming new ice arena addition well on its way toward being completed by the beginning of October. But you’d be wrong.
Both the boys’ and girls’ booster club organizations are thousands of dollars short of a $40,000 fundraising goal that city officials have told them must be reached in order to use high school-specific locker rooms added to the project for use by only the Park hockey program.
But in tight times, both clubs are having trouble finding any large donors to help chip away at the $20,000 price tag each must pony up, said Renae Villari, vice president of the Park Girls Hockey Boosters.
“The economy is certainly an issue,” she said last week. “Part of our challenge is with getting more support from the (Cottage Grove Hockey Association) membership, but … gas prices have pretty much taken over our checkbooks and I do feel it makes (fundraising) even tougher.”
The booster clubs are responsible for funding the locker rooms in the city-owned building because the rooms were added specifically for the high school teams, said city administrator Ryan Schroeder. Youth teams or recreational skaters won’t have access to the added dressing rooms, he said, meaning they shouldn’t be passed on to taxpayers.
“My understanding is there are really 70 hockey players in any given year that would have access to the locker rooms, not anybody else,” Schroeder said. “It wouldn’t be available to the general public or your kid who’s 6 years old and learning to skate.”
But if the booster clubs don’t come up with the needed cash by Oct. 1, they won’t have access, either.
“We’ve done car washes, raffles; we’re hopeful (the raffle) will be a good one for us,” said Villari, who has a daughter who is a sophomore in the girls’ hockey program. “But it’s a ton of work for two groups of people whose kids are going to be in the program and using the facility for a minimal amount of time.”
Last month, the boosters met with city officials in an attempt hash out a new plan for allowing the high school teams entrance to the locker rooms — which, even when the clubs are given the keys will still be bare, in need of more fundraising to outfit them with lockers and rubber matting.
One feasible solution, both Villari and Schroeder said, is a proposal to lease the locker rooms to the boys’ and girls’ hockey teams. It’s an idea that would lessen the daunting financial stress the clubs face in the present, instead spreading the burden out over the course of a yet-to-be determined number of years. Before the city can move forward with lease discussions, Schroeder said it needs final cost figures for the construction of the locker rooms. The plan would require city council approval, too.
But, Schroeder says, it’s something the city does all the time, leasing out things like park shelters for an afternoon to graduation or wedding parties.
“So we do those kinds of things, this would just be a longer-term lease,” he said.
Which, to Villari, makes much more sense.
“We’re doing this for the future,” she said. “We’re not doing it for our kids, we’re doing it for the future, because our kids won’t use this for very long.”
Jon Avise can be reached at email@example.com.