First public comment made and that's it...
For a lot of people, Kent State's response to this whole situation may have deterred their efforts to move forward. However, I am not one of those people. When I find a cause I am passionate about, I go all out until I know for sure there is nothing else that I can possibly do. This is it... the moment I waited for. A public announcement from Kent State regarding the changes to the Ice Arena. And it read:
“The Kent State marching band is losing its current practice space along Main Street because of scheduled street renovations. As a result, the recreation side of the ice rink will be converted into a rehearsal and education space for the marching band. Students and student programs (including intercollegiate and club sports) will have priority of use of the competition ice rink. We are committed to working with community groups based on ice availability. High school, youth programs, and KSU Ice Arena programming will continue to use the competition rink. Also, because of the renovations, we were able to upgrade the competition rink for public use as well, including the HVAC system.”
That's it? We're not going to talk about how long this plan has been in the works or where we are getting the funding for this project? Obviously it was not a part of the master plan. I am led to believe that the university knew for some time that a traffic circle would be placed where the marching band currently practices. It would strike me as strange that this all began in March of this year. More on that topic once I can gather more information on the budget via my public records request. While Kent State was quick to throw out that this renovation will improve the HVAC system, there is nothing being said about the aging chillers that keep the rink frozen.
I must say that when Channel 5 News reached out to me for an interview, it gave me a renewed sense of hope to be able to discuss why I am bringing this issue with the university to the forefront for all to see. While they made their story all about hockey, what I really wanted them to see was that it's about community. It's about kids with limited ice times that may have to travel to other rinks to get practices in. It's about a high school hockey game on one rink and across the lobby future high school players practicing on the other. It's about youth players begging their parents to stay for just a few more minutes as they idolize and want to be just like the big kids on the ice. It's wanting to be better when you're watching the college teams play. It's about community members who use the rink to have a night of friendly (sometimes) competition with old friends. It's about the local businesses who benefited from hockey games, tournaments and figure skating competitions. Out of town folks dining in their restaurants and purchasing items in their shops. You see it's about community. A community, who for the past 50 years has been using the ice arena's facilities. 50 years of college, high school and youth hockey and figure skating. Why now, must all of that change? Certainly as a city can see the benefit of having this staple in our community, so why not Kent State?
I have to give a huge shout out to Megan Becka of the Plain Dealer, while her article discussed the changes, she also highlighted the already negative impact that this is having on the youth clubs. The clubs in which Mr. Mansfield said in his written response that the university would still work with. How are they supposed to work with 3 hours a week for roughly 30 skaters? So see, while they issued their statement to appease us, the adverse effects of their decision are already beginning to impact the local community. In most cities and towns you can find a football field, a baseball field, and probably tennis courts. You can find golf courses also. What you can't find in many cities or towns are ice rinks. That's why this is so important. That's why we need Kent State to rethink this decision. It's for the COMMUNITY. Why can't a solution be found that benefits the band, but not at the detriment of the COMMUNITY. You see, we are the City of Kent. We are not just Kent State.
I had a friend text me to thank me for the awareness I was raising around this issue and bringing it to light for all to be aware. My response to her was thanks but it was also "at the end of the day it's about more than hockey and figure skating. What kind of lesson do I teach my kids if I don't stand up for what I think is right. ". So this may be a battle or war lost, but at least my children can look at their mom, hopefully with pride, knowing that she did all she could about something she thought was right.