By Shereen Siewert
WAUSAU — Hopes for an outdoor ice rink on the city’s northeast side this winter are likely dashed, as property owners have opted against having a rink on their property.
But ice skating enthusiasts could have cause for celebration soon if Tribute Golf Course moves forward with a plan for an ice rink as early as next year.
The latest proposal called for a 12,600-square-foot rink on privately owned land at the intersection of Sixth Street and Evergreen Road. The rink would have cost about $17,200 to pour and maintain and was chosen over an earlier proposed location at River Highlands Park, which would have cost an estimated $25,000 to pour and maintain, including costs to install benches, light poles and electrical services.
But the owners of the Sixth Street property now say they are uncomfortable with the potential costs of liability claims and the city’s request to use their property with no compensation, according to city documents.
And now, city leaders say, it is too late in the year and not cost-effective to do the necessary grading for a rink at River Highlands for a single season of use.
Northeast side residents organized a grassroots effort this year to resurrect an ice rink in the neighborhood after the Wausau School District eliminated the rink at Riverview Elementary. City leaders heard those voices, and have been working with residents ever since to find an acceptable location for a new rink.
Decades ago, the city poured rinks at a number of local elementary schools, providing free outdoor recreational opportunities for neighborhood children. But the number of rinks — and skaters — diminished over the years, and this year, outdoor skating will be limited to The 400 Block and Marathon Park.