With the sun glaring off the ice of Toledo’s Ottawa Park ice rink Sunday, regular skater Kay Anderson took a quick spin around and came to an abrupt stop to observe others at the facility — the last time she may be able to do so for a long time.
Sunday was the last day of skating at the West Toledo public ice rink for the 2013-14 season, and budget cuts proposed by the Collins administration don’t fund reopening it in November.
“This is how I get through my winter,” Ms. Anderson of Maumee said. “I’m just so disappointed, and I don’t know why they would do this because it has all new equipment.”
City officials last week said funding for the rink was slashed in half this year versus last year and pools were defunded — leaving no money for aquatics in the summer or skating during the 2014-15 winter.
Toledo City Council members at a parks and recreation hearing last week blasted the Collins administration for the decision to keep pools closed this summer. Hours after that announcement, Mayor D. Michael Collins revealed a possible alternative source to fund summer aquatics fun: seized drug money and revenue from seized properties. But no mention was made of changing his proposed budget regarding the Ottawa Park ice rink.
Ms. Anderson said the rink “is a jewel of Toledo” that goes mostly unused because many don’t know it exists.
Many times, the ice is bare. Fewer than a dozen people skated Sunday at 3 p.m.
The mayor’s budget slashes funding for the ice rink at Ottawa Park by more than 50 percent, or $48,912.
“That [rink] is an example of something that we are doing right,” said Toledo Councilman Lindsay Webb. “If you don’t open it and allow it to go dormant, the improvements they made to the ice rink will disappear, and we will have to start all over with fresh improvements when the city decides to open it again. ... Every year these things are on the chopping block.”
Usage figures for the rink were unavailable Sunday but poor attendance at some city pools was cited as a reason to keep them closed this summer.
The pools opened last year were Roosevelt, Wilson, Navarre, Jamie Farr, Pickford, and Willys.
The 2013 budget included $230,605 for the six pools and a splash pad at Savage Park in central Toledo. Buried within the proposed 2014 budget — which council must approve before March 31 — is a line item listing pools with $0 as proposed funding.
Last year, the pools and splash pad opened on June 24 and closed Aug. 2. Weather was “unusually cold the last two weeks and it rained 17 days in July resulting in low attendance figures,” city records said. The pools were closed six times because of inclement weather.
Total attendance numbers for the pools last year were as follows: Willys, 3,896; Wilson 1,215; Navarre, 2,524; Pickford, 3,249; Jamie Farr, 2,015; Roosevelt, 2,079, and Savage splash pad, 1,708.
Total attendance last year was 16,686 people, down from 24,477 in 2012.
By comparison, pools in suburban areas are used more often. In Bowling Green, for example, the popular city pool was used by 21,749 people in 2010. It has a water slide, two diving boards, and a separate children’s play area.