Cold key to ‘dream’ hills for sledding

Olander says it’s waiting for right time


For Gary Madrzykowski, the Olander Park System director, building sledding hills has been years in the making. When the park system acquired the initial acreage for Brint Road’s Sylvan Prairie Park in 2002, he said one of the long-term projects included a sledding hill.

But he knew that a hill would have to be done right, or it just wouldn’t be worth doing.

“We contacted JRR Architectural Firm. They specialize in these kinds of things,” he said. The commissioners and he then asked the firm to show them “the best sledding hill we can build in the area.”

After seeing two designs, the Olander Park System commissioners opted for the second. “This is a three-hill design,” said Mr. Madrzykowski. “We wanted a dream sledding hill.”

He said the first option came in at an estimated $1.4 million dollars. So the second option, estimated at about $400,00, with a 2-percent cost contingency, came into play.

The plan includes three sledding hills, a star-gazing plaza with a shelter, and an ice-skating rink. 

The entire complex will be lighted, and Mr. Madrzykowski foresees keeping it open to sledders until 8 p.m. on weeknights to give families time after work. 

He said the skating rink will be naturally carved.

“The ice rink itself is going to be a lower bowl ice rink in the ground. We will carve it out of the ground. It will form from the water that will come off the sledding hill,” he said.

A warming pit and ADA accessible walkway are in the plan as well.

Mr. Madrzykowski said he has secured help from Hanson Aggregate to help ease some of the costs.

“We went to the general manager ... and they looked over the design,” he said. “They said, ‘when we go through our slow winter time, we will donate our services to you. ’ ” But the snowy winter never materialized.

“We didn’t have a winter. They never slowed down,” Mr. Madrzykowski said.

He said the park system is willing to wait for the right time to build the hills.

“It’s been on our original plan for 10 years,” he said.

The idea for sledding hills arose after the system sent out a comprehensive survey that asked residents what they wanted in a park. Mr. Madrzykowski said voters shared their interests in natural restoration and utilizing Sylvan Prairie, which was a former golf course.

But weather continues to halt cost-effective progress.

“The park system has the flexibility to do the project this year, if winter cooperates with us,” he said.

 He said the system would use unencumbered funds, which is reserve funding. However, if freezing temperatures and snow still doesn’t materialize, he said he still has hope.