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updated: 1/7/2014 10:45 AM

Pending park sale means Libertyville hockey rink may have to go

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  • Libertyville Parks Department employee Rosalio Ayala clears the ice rink at Bolander Park in Libertyville earlier this season.

       Libertyville Parks Department employee Rosalio Ayala clears the ice rink at Bolander Park in Libertyville earlier this season.
    Steve Lundy | Staff Photographer

 
 

The bitter cold may be keeping skaters and hockey players off the ice at Bolander Park in Libertyville, but a group of residents is keeping the issue of what becomes of the hockey rink when the park is sold on the front burner.

"We just want it to go somewhere else," said Audrey Glenn, whose family uses the free outdoor hockey rink that has boards and lights. "I'm afraid if people don't show their support, it would quietly go away."

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The options will be discussed Tuesday at a joint meeting of the volunteer parks and recreation advisory commission and village board's parks and recreation committee. The session is scheduled for 6 p.m. at village hall, 118 W. Cook Ave.

"We're really encouraging ideas, input and understanding," said Connie Kowal, the village's director of recreation and the Sports Complex.

Bolander Park, at 625 W. Winchester Road, is the headquarters for the parks department, although only four employees, including Kowal, work there. Village officials in June 2012 decided to sell the 5.3-acre park and buildings after a study showed it was underutilized and faced big repair costs.

After an earlier sale fell through, village officials on Nov. 12 approved the sale for $2.05 million to a Lake Forest developer who intends to build a townhouse-style neighborhood.

How the village would transition operations and facilities, including the ice rink, has been under consideration for about a year.

Several factors -- including whether the boards would hold up to a move, maintenance costs and impact on neighbors -- are among the considerations involved with moving the rink.

An informal discussion regarding the history of the rink, its use, potential options and other factors was held last month with several residents, Kowal said.

"There's a whole gumbo of things we have to look at," he said. "That's all part of the blank tablet for discussion."

The extent to which supporters get involved in terms of contributing money or labor may be a factor in a final decision. An estimate by the village shows it would cost nearly $198,000 to install a hockey rink at Adler Park.

"It's an expensive amenity right now," said Trustee Drew Cullum, who chairs the parks and recreation committee.

Glenn and others say there is interest in volunteer support of some type. Michael Slade said he and his son have played at Bolander six times already this winter and has seen as many as 20 people on the ice at a time. He described it as providing a "very cool intergenerational community experience."

Slade said volunteers are willing to help move equipment and perform other tasks, such as removing snow, but have not ventured into fundraising as yet, in hopes village officials would appropriate a percentage of the sale proceeds to that end.

Cullum said it has to be determined if or how a relocation can fit in the budget. No final decision is expected Tuesday.

"We're not just throwing it out," he said. "We're still in the process of trying to figure out what's the best alternative."

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