In case you missed it, there’s been a lot of chatter lately about turning Red Arrow Park (920 N. Water St.) into a roller skating rink during the summer. The park is an ice skating rink in the winter, after all, so why not a roller skating rink in the summer? Despite a recent thumbs-up from the Milwaukee County Board, Milwaukee County Executive David Crowley vetoed the idea, citing funding and timeline issues.
But that’s apparently not stopping advocacy group Roller Skate at Red Arrow Park. In order to show public support for the idea, the group is organizing a rally, photo shoot, and free roller skate party on Saturday, August 27, at 1 p.m.
“Red Arrow Park is vacant for 75% of the year, whenever the weather can’t support ice skating,” says Terrence Clarke, coordinator of Roller Skate at Red Arrow Park, in a press release. “We’re simply asking to use a public county park as intended, as stated by the manufacturer of the rink, without wasting taxpayer dollars on unnecessary infrastructure.”
The rally will begin, sans skates, at 1 p.m. at Red Arrow Park. At 2 p.m., the so-called “Rollin’ on Water Skate Party” will head south to the blacktopped area across from the Milwaukee Public Market (400 N. Water St.) for some proper roller skating action. Chicago’s DJ Bam will provide the music. Attendees must provide their own skates.
Here’s more about the Roller Skate at Red Arrow Park group and what it’s up to:
Roller Skate at Red Arrow Park is a Milwaukee-based advocacy group that has been working since 2014 to allow the park to be used year-round by roller skaters when not covered in ice. The idea is supported by local businesses, who stand to gain traffic and customers, and county supervisors, who have recognized the need for more active, family friendly activities in downtown Milwaukee. Commercial Refrigeration Systems, the company that built and installed the Red Arrow Park Ice Skating Rink, has confirmed that the structure of the rink would support roller skating, as other rinks across the United States have done for years, including the Guidant John Rose Oval in Roseville MN (outdoor speedskating oval and bandy rink), the Olympic Center in Lake Placid NY on the outdoor speedskating oval, the St. Louis Park Outdoor Recreation Center St. Louis Park, MN., and the Plaza at Gateway Park in Neenah, Wisconsin, as well as several others.
In May, Milwaukee County Supervisors unanimously approved a resolution authored by Chairwoman Marcelia Nicholson and Sup. Ryan Clancy to require Milwaukee County Parks to present a plan for use of Red Arrow Park as a roller-skating rink. In June, the plan presented by Milwaukee County Parks’ citied the need for additional funding and time, partly to lay a protective covering over the rink’s concrete base and to install temporary framing around the rink, despite the advocacy group’s evidence from the manufacturer that no protective base over the concrete was needed to preserve the rink’s cooling system. Still, Chairwoman Nicholson presented a plan to funnel $175,000 toward a pilot program for the rink. The County Executive vetoed that plan in July, citing budgetary concerns. The group maintains the funding is not needed and the area should be used for roller skating as is, with programming provided by the roller skate community.
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