Thursday, September 17, 2009

One Councilman explains his anti-rink stance

I was sitting in the tiny locker room at the Pasadena Skate Center last evening preparing for my adult hockey clinic. A kid one bench over noticed something dripping from the ceiling and asked his dad what it was -- and mentioned it smelled kind of ba.

A few of us looked up and realized immediately what it was: the locker room happens to be located right under the bathrooms on the second floor. Something up there was leaking.

Even by the standards of hockey, that's gross!

As some of you might know, the fate of the Pasadena ice rink has been in the news. As I posted the other day, the Pasadena City Council on Monday voted against building a new rink with two sheets of ice in the city. Instead, the Council is going to explore renovating the current rink (shown above) with its one small sheet of ice. The rink is located in the Convention Center and there is no room to make the rink any larger without expanding the size of the old ballroom that is home to the rink.

Chances of that happening in Pasadena? Pretty much zip, considering it's a historic structure (the city is very protective of anything that is historic) and such an expansion would likely cost millions of dollars.

I'm a supporter of the new rink. After I published my post on the rink controversy the other night I zipped off a fairly nasty email to my representative on the Council, Terry Tornek, who voted against building a new skating facility. I received a response within 24 hours in which the Councilman better explained his views.

I still do not agree with him, but at least I know better his logic. I wanted to post both my email and his response:

Dear Councilman Tornek;

I am writing because I have tried really, really hard and still do not understand your support for renovating the current ice rink in Pasadena.

The existing rink is too small. Therefore it's often crowded and there isn't enough time or space for all potential uses (public skating, figure skating, hockey, broomball, private rentals, etc.).

There is no room to expand the size of the rink. So how does renovating the rink solve the real problem-- that the place is too small? The answer is obvious: renovating the rink accomplishes nothing but making it appear that the city is doing something when the city is, in fact, doing nothing.

In the interest of full disclosure, I write a blog called Puck Boy Chronicles about my attempt to learn to play hockey at the age of 43. I frequent the Pasadena rink. Here's my latest post on the issue of building the new rink: "Pasadena City Council to Ice Skaters: Burbank is That Way! Now Leave!"

I do not think you will like the aforementioned blog post! But I suppose that's the joy of serving in public office: you get the opportunity to read cranky emails and blog posts from constituents such as myself about yourself. We may disagree on the ice rink issue, but I bet we agree on this: local politics sure are fun! :)

Thank you for your time,

Steve Hymon


Steve -

I'm sorry that you don't feel that I'm adequately representing your interests. You (and others) are entitled to a more detailed explanation - although you would have heard it all if you watched the Council Meetings on KPAS.

I voted against the rink proposal because:
1) I don't think that it is a responsible expenditure of public dollars - particularly in a time of economic scarcity.
2) I think the site is poor from both access & geotechnical perspectives.
3)I think that the use is inappropriate for a site designated as Open Space in the middle of residential neighborhoods. The neighborhood Association agrees.
4)I believe that there are more important but unfunded youth sports priorities.
5)I don't believe that it will be profitable; hence Polar Ice Ventures' unwillingness to invest any equity & demanding that the City make a $9M commitment.

I understand that the existing facility is undersized for competitive hockey & aspiring world-class figure skaters. However, I believe that it can serve the needs of most recreational skaters.

In an era of limited resources, the City cannot provide everything for everybody.
Thanks for the civilized dialogue. Not everyone has been quite so polite.

Terry Tornek

I continue to believe that an expanded skating facility could thrive and introduce skating to many people who haven't previously tried it. It would take some work, of course. But none of the rinks in the area do an impressive job of marketing their skating programs -- in fact, most of them have horrible, horrible websites -- and all it would take is someone willing to make an effort.

--Steve Hymon

1 comment:

  1. Mr. Tornek obviously isn't an athlete. Saying the undersized Pasadena Ice Rink ". . . can serve the needs of most recreational skaters," is like saying a broom closet would serve the office needs of a small-time politian such as himself.

    In the interest of not having a zoning official come out and take a look at my house's setback, I am not signing this commentary.