Serving Gogebic, Iron and Ontonagon Counties

Ironwood plans for sliding hills, ice rink


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Ironwood — As the winter weather approaches so does the planning to build sliding hills and an outdoor ice rink, according to action at the Ironwood Parks and Recreation Committee meeting on Monday.

The committee 7-0 approved a request from member Tom Kangas to build a “simple ice rink” by flooding the volleyball court at the Historic Depot Park once the air temperatures permit. The term simple rink followed discussion that the rink would not have boards and only a snow border to contain the water inside the sand court that would serve as the skating area.

Kangas said he wanted the committee’s approval to schedule a meeting with Neil Corcoran, the city parks maintenance supervisor, to discuss the possibility of putting a sheet of ice down on the court for skating. The committee action will show there is support for the idea from the appropriate body.

“This winter is going to be difficult on families with finding outlets for the kids,” Kangas said.

Kim Corcoran, a city commissioner and the ex-officio member of the committee, introduced a similar plan for a sliding hill for kids this winter. She suggested the former Norrie School location in addition to the smaller hill at the new Downtown City Square.

“If we could get some clean snow on the old school site, it has a good incline and would be something for the kids to play with,” Corcoran said.

Bergman said the school district has been supportive of building sliding hills at that location in the past. If there is no opposition this year then he would discuss the matter further with the city manager.

Sam Davey, committee chair, said the sliding hills are a low cost activity. The Norrie hill and city square locations should be adequate for this year and offer an opportunity to gauge use before adding more hills.

The committee continued discussion on goal setting for 2021.

Tom Bergman, director of community development for the city of Ironwood, said the year is going to be busy with a review of the entire parks and recreation plan and the city’s comprehensive plan. The first half of the year will also be busy with managing a competitive application process for the city’s new commercial marijuana ordinance, he said.

Bergman recommended that the committee discuss and narrow a list of potential goals down to a few and prioritize them in January. He suggested the playground topic as a goal that has been kicked around for over a year without identifying a new park location for north of U.S. 2, and which other parks to improve or add playground equipment.

Davey agreed that the playground issue was a priority. Other possible goals included organizing the annual workshop, inviting a invasive species specialist as a speaker, building a database of friends of the park groups for each park with contact information and skills descriptions for each member.

Bergman informed the committee that the Michigan Department of Natural Resources Trust Fund has recommended approval of the Norrie Park Renovation and Water Trail project. It was a surprise in that he felt the lack of a regional water trail designation would count against the project.

“The water trail designation is still a priority and could be added to the goals list,” Bergman said. “A statewide and regional basis is important for long term development of the project. This goal will take multiple years to complete and especially if the designation goes all the way to Lake Superior.”

In other updates, Bergman said the city will ask the DNR for an extension for its comprehensive park and recreation plan implementation to include priority trail improvements from the Miners Memorial Heritage Park and the Beltline Trail. This would allow Coleman Engineering to complete the environmental analysis by June.

The preliminary work for the mountain bike trail development for Miners Memorial Heritage Park is nearly completed, he said. The project is in final review and should go out to bid in early 2021.

The next regular meeting is scheduled for 5 p.m. Monday, Jan. 4, 2021.