Shakopee’s Riverside Fields residents go rogue, flood closed rink themselves

Shakopee residents took it upon themselves to flood the Riverside Fields ice rink in January after the City Council voted to keep it closed. Photo submitted

Taking a page from Henry David Thoreau’s book, a group of Shakopee residents has taken it upon themselves to flood the closed ice rink at Riverside Fields Park at 7800 Crossings Boulevard.

The act of civil disobedience was self-funded by the residents, who recruited Chlorinated Water Supply and Shakopee Home Depot to undertake the flooding of the rink. The residents declined to provide the cost. Last year, the city paid $173, according to city documents, for the water needed to make the ice.

A water truck floods the Riverside Fields rink.

The tension between Riverside Field residents and the city began one month ago, when the neighborhood learned their ice rink would not be flooded this year, with plans to move the lights and boards to Lions Park for a second sheet of ice next winter.

The Riverside Fields park was constructed in 2013, but under the recently council-approved Parks, Trails, and Recreation Master Plan, Shakopee’s outdoor rinks are undergoing a consolidation plan.

Residents of the neighborhood, led by Jess Lowenberg, asked the council on Dec. 17 to reconsider and leave the rink open for another year to further evaluate its use. At a follow-up meeting Jan. 7, the council voted 4-1 in favor of reaffirming its decision to close the rink. Councilor Matt Lehman was the lone dissenter, speaking in favor of keeping the rink open and absorbing the $16,000 annual cost to the city or working with residents to lower that cost.

As part of the group’s call to leave the rink open, they are hoping to host a Save the Rink event tomorrow for Hockey Day Minnesota – Saturday, Jan. 18 – on their newly created ice. The incoming winter storm may complicate things as they work to get the ice ready for skating, so event organizer Erik Radtke said anyone interested in going should keep an eye on the Facebook event page for updates.

As for how the city is receiving this news? City Administrator Bill Reynolds didn’t seem too concerned. Asked whether the resident-funded ice violates city code or presents a liability to the city, Reynolds responded, “As long as they aren’t bungee jumping from the fence I wouldn’t be too concerned. Dress warm!”

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