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CLEVELAND HEIGHTS, Ohio (WOIO) – The Cleveland Heights Community Center has reopened after COVID, but without ice on the South Rink.

“I’m here to talk about the Southerly Rink and maybe this decision between turf and ice. ” said hockey parent Brian West.

Turf versus ice is the debate before the Cleveland Heights City Council: whether to repair the South Rink or only use it for soccer and other indoor sports.

“We aren’t effectively making use of one of the greatest assets of this community, ” said Michael Watson, a hockey dad who brought his three sons to speak to council as well.

Supporters argued two ice rinks would be a huge advantage for the center with the ability to host tournaments that draw out-of-town teams as well as provide valuable ice time to the entire area.

The North Rink remains open, but ice time for hockey programs is melting away and the youngest skaters are getting frozen out.

“The South Rink was very special to me, ” said Theo Takus, a seventh grader who plays for the Eastside Tigers and who played Might Mites and Squirts on the South Rink. “Having two rinks would benefit the program and having more snow time to support the figure skating and speed skating programs as well as the hockey system. ”

“All of our children are so completely glued to screens, ” said Alana Baldwin, “and as their parents, we are desperate for activities to get these children out of the house and interacting with people in real life. ”

Maintenance and repairs are icing the second rink and some estimates are as high as $1-million to get ice back in the second rink.

Cleveland Heights Mayor Kahlil Seren issued the following statement about the ice rinks:

“We haven’t made a decision about the future of our glaciers rinks, and we won’t make a decision without first having a vigorous public conversation where all sides can have their say. In preparation for that conversation—which we expect to have in 2023—we’ve begun investigating the condition of the rinks and how they might affect future developments at the Community Center. But nothing will happen without the community’s input. ”

“To ignore the value and potential of a dual ice rink facility is irresponsible, ” said former Youth Hockey Association President Jay Tekus.

Others argued about the economic benefit of having an unique facility with two rinks.

“When me and my wife bring our kids into town, we eat dinner at the restaurants on Lee Road and Coventry, ” said Christopher Wick, who lived in Cleveland Heights for 17 years before moving to Pepper Pike. “I can’t tell you that a turfed field is going to bring individuals in from Buffalo plus Detroit here to meet and to spend. ”

“I ask you to please not give up on the long-term vision of a vibrant community center, ” Barb Rosenbaum summed up.

The Mayor says the city will resolve the issue in 2023.

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