Four grandmothers in a Duluth, Minn., neighborhood organized a meeting at Lower Chester Park on Saturday afternoon to warn residents about a community organization that could dismantle the outdoor rink and nearby warming house where U.S. Olympian and NHL star Tommy Williams once skated. Plans are to turn the site into a greenhouse.
"We learned that the whole complex is scheduled to be demolished," Beverly Berntson, one of the concerned grandmothers, told the gathering of a few dozen people, according to a report in the Duluth News Tribune. "While the four grandmas brought this event about … we're not the likely leaders in this effort (to save the rink). … The opportunity is here, but the commitment has to come from you."
Although the park belongs to the city, the facilities have been leased to a community organization called Friends of the Park, which subsequently subleased parts of the park to other groups. Seeds of Success, a Community Action Program, planted a community garden, for example, and an inline skating group uses the rink during the summer. Susie Darley-Hill, a Friends of the Parks member who lives in the neighborhood, said community involvement makes a difference. "Volunteers have really taken ownership of their city parks, which obviously sends signals to the city," she said.
The four grandmothers and a handful of other concerned citizens are hoping the city will receive the signals they're sending. "Nobody talked to us in the neighborhood about this," Dianna Storms told reporter John Lundy.