Ice Skating Rink Meeting Minutes

ATTENDED: Clare Rodriguez (Wicker Park Supervisor), Brian Culliton, Nick Gecan, Devin Poolie, Natalie Konieczko, John Plant, Tony Brown, Denise Browning, Joe Sawiki, Susan Fontana, Elaine Coorens, Alisa Hauser, Doug Wood, (Sean Campbell, Michael Watt, Dan Nardi – absent but interested in committee)

GOAL OF MEETING: To determine if there is a group of neighbors who are willing to devote time to survey the community interest level, usage variables, potential sources of funding, and the desired location and size of an ice rink in Wicker Park.  Once this information is obtained, then the group will request to work with a design team of Park District appointed project managers to realize the project by December 2015.

  1. Wicker Skate Rink Committee is confirmed: The entire group agreed to continue to meet and work as a committee. Next meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, April 14 at 7pm at the Wicker Park Field House.


    • Consensus: Almost all in attendance love to skate and most of them lived very near the park. They said that they must travel very far to get to a rink and those rinks are very crowded.
    • Patron Profile: The rink would serve both recreational skaters and hockey players of all ages. Each group will have assigned times that do not conflict.
    • Historic Restoration of Wicker Park Skating: Wicker Park is an historic Chicago Park District Park in an historic neighborhood. Bringing the rink back to the park would be a significant restoration of our historically significant park and make the park the center of the community in the winter as it is in the summer.  The Advisory Council has assisted with the restoration of the fountain court with fundraising for historically significant urns and benches, the award winning gardens, and the restoration of the Wicker sculpture.
    • Enhance Park Usage in Winter: The entire group would like to see activity in the park in the winter; the park’s playing field is underused or vacant during 4-5 months of the year. Park Programs could be developed to utilize the ice and benefit the enrollment in park classes.
    • Quality of Life and Winter – Health: The rink would enhance the quality of life in our neighborhood and provide good exercise in winter months.
    • Enhance Commerce: Those who would come to the rink would shop and dine at the business in the community. The decorated historic fountain and the rink would draw people from all over Chicagoland in winter months.
  2. History of Skating in Wicker Park: Natalie Konieczko a long term resident of the area discussed skating in both Pulaski and Wicker Parks. The Park District trucks entered the field and plowed the snow into a wall around the outside of the rink. The rink was then flooded and maintained (added a new coat of ice almost daily) by Park District Staff or neighbors. When it snowed, the Park District scraped off the snow or children shoveled it.  Nick Gecan stated his south side park did something similar. Both brought up the idea of a warming house.

    OTHER FLOODING INFO: Joe Sawicki noted that Lombard regularly floods a low lying field; but, in our case, the outfield drains toward the dog park and would probably not hold water without some type of walls.

    TO DO: Doug Wood will speak with Julia Bachrach, Chicago Park District historian and ask if she has photos of skating in Wicker Park.  If so, Clare Rodriguez pointed out that we could frame and hang as part of the restoration campaign.

  3. Size and Location:  According to Joe Sawicki (Wicker Park 16in Softball Coordinator), the infield is approximately 70ft X 70ft. There is a substantial drop off at the intersection of the infield and outfield – so spanning that intersection is not a good idea.  Also, when the ice would melt, the infield does not drain well and would be very muddy. Since the desired size of ice rink would be 135ft X 65ft so it could be used for hockey, the group determined that the outfield near the dog park would be the best location. Devin Poole stated that this size of rink could accommodate both Ice Hockey and recreational skaters.

    OUTFIELD ATTRIBUTES: Rather flat, near a fire hydrant water source. Doug Wood pointed out that the Alderman could be asked to assist with obtaining a fire hydrant key if the project proceeds. It is common for community garden groups to obtain fire hydrant keys – so this should not be a problem.

  4. Nice Rink Model: Since there has not been ample snow before late December/January, Brian Culliton introduced the design idea employed by Nice Rink – This Model utilizes boards, brackets and a liner and comes in all sizes.

    TO DO: Design – Brian Culliton will put together a design layout for consideration – locations, size, etc.  Brian will determine Nice Rink Initial Costs, liner replacement costs, reseeding concerns. It was suggested that if the boards and brackets are installed in mid-November before the ground is frozen and the liner installed after the ground is frozen (Early December) and then removed in early March, the turf should not be damaged.

    INSTALLATION: Brian Culliton suggested installing the Nice Rink using volunteers. Doug Wood said that the Park District offers a Community Building Permit and this would be options if all installers are unpaid volunteers.

    CHECK SIZE: Continue to check size and materials with all options with all committee members. Send me your input.

  5. SURVEY – 10 questions: The group discussed the details creating a survey that would elucidate the community’s interest levels, usage variables and potential sources of funding. Doug Wood will draft the survey and send to committee members for editing by Friday, March 13. Devin Poole has a background in drafting effective surveys and offered to assist in the design of this survey. Edits are to be completed by Wednesday, March 18 and uploaded to Survey Monkey.

    Survey distribution: The survey will be distributed to the WPAC events mailing list (2,000), WPAC Website ( requested to be sent to WPB News Letter, 1st, 2nd 32nd and 35th Ward Newsletters, and distributed by social media of the above mentioned and to neighborhood organizations like Wicker Park Committee, WPB Chamber, and the 6 faith based organizations that assist us with Park events.

    • Gather information from the survey – March-April
    • Determine Funding Sources – various options suggested – try some
    • Meeting with Project Managers from Chicago Park District
    • Discuss ideas with Park Historians
    • Obtain all necessary quotes
    • Set up account at Park Foundation for the Project
    • Fundraise
    • Skate in December