Warming house project moves toward construction
By CHUCK CLEMENT, Staff Reporter
A local group organizing the construction of a combined warming house/picnic shelter at Memorial Park has collected enough donations to construct the building.|
Katherine Gunderson and Kristine Whitethorn, both members of Engaging Families, told the Madison City Commission that the organization has collected $9,010 for the construction and outfitting of a proposed warming house. The structure would serve as a warming house and ice-skate rental shop for a new ice rink located on the west side of Memorial Park.
Gunderson and Whitethorn told the city commissioners that the building's cost was estimated at about $7,000. Along with the construction funds, the group wants to accumulate another $5,000 to $7,000 for the purchase of ice skates.
Engaging Families plans to purchase about 100 pairs of ice skates that rink users can rent at the warming house. According to Whitethorn, the organizers want to purchase five pairs of skates for each foot size at $70 a pair, requiring a total of $7,000 to buy all of the ice skates.
The group, which was organized as a community-project subgroup of the 2011-12 Leadership Madison program, had first proposed to the commissioners in April 2012 the creation of a Memorial Park ice rink that the city would construct and maintain. They also asked the city to handle the staffing of the shelter.
"We're really excited to see (the project) realized," Whitethorn said.
During the city meeting, Whitethorn asked the commissioners about assistance from the city to provide electricity to the shelter and obtaining a building permit. Mayor Gene Hexom told the women that they should contact Dennis Poppen, the municipal electric superintendent, for information about the utility connection.
Engaging Families members also proposed that the city could use the structure as a picnic shelter during summer months.
The group members had obtained information from the Sioux Falls parks department providing the estimated hours of operation, staffing and utility costs, and maintenance requirements. The members also consulted with several Madison Parks Department staff members and other city employees.
Engaging Families adapted their project from a warming house/ice-skate rental project that was initiated by another group called Students In Free Enterprise, or SIFE, believing that it was a worthy endeavor.
The group had promoted the project as part of a program to encourage families to spend time together doing an affordable outside activity. They also said the facility would enhance Madison and surrounding area.
The group spent the last 10 months collecting donations from community businesses and individuals so that construction could start this spring.
Since last April, Gunderson, Whitethorn, Carrie Callies and Ray Johnson continued to work on the shelter project with assistance from the Madison Chamber of Commerce. Leadership Madison is a government and civic affairs education program conducted annually by the Madison chamber. Rosie Jameson, the chamber's executive director, called the effort made by Engaging Families "...a testament to what Leadership Madison community service group projects can do in our community."
"The group has done a tremendous job of making a difference in Madison," Jameson said.
Whitethorn said any person, group or business could make contributions to the local chamber to help complete the project.