Keep Congdon Park Hockey at Lower Chester Park
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Duluth, Minnesota boasts the last outdoor hockey program in all of North America. Outdoor hockey has been a major part of the fabric of Duluth for well over one hundred years, but neighborhood rinks struggle to survive. Just think – at its height, Duluth was home to 37 outdoor rinks. Today, seven associations are keeping the legacy alive. Congdon Park Hockey, however, is in jeopardy of losing its current home at Lower Chester Park. The association is fighting to keep the doors open for current and future youth.
Congdon Park Hockey is not at risk of losing its home because of lack of participation or interest in outdoor hockey. In fact, the association is currently serving over 70 families in its programs. It offers hockey to youth between 4 and 10 years old (i.e. mini-mites to squirts). Participation has increased dramatically over the past five years since the program relocated to Lower Chester Park from Congdon Park School—registrations have increased nearly 75% in that time period. Congdon Park Hockey currently maintains four outdoor rinks with an all-volunteer staff comprised of parents of the children that utilize the facility—Congdon Park Hockey logs an estimated 6,000 volunteer hours per winter.
Congdon Park Hockey is at risk of losing its home because of a philosophical shift in the future vision of Lower Chester Park. The Lower Chester Hockey Association was closed in 2009 due to lack of funding. At that time, the Neighbors of Lower Chester Park (NOLCP) partnered with the City of Duluth to manage the park. When Congdon Park Hockey lost their rink in 2012 as part of the school district’s “red plan,” it began leasing the park from NOLCP during the winter to bring hockey back to Lower Chester Park, where it is currently thriving. However, NOLCP has clearly expressed a vision for the park that would not leave adequate space for organized youth hockey to continue at Lower Chester Park, despite the over 100 years of hockey legacy at the park." This spring, the Duluth City Council and the City of Duluth’s Parks and Recreation Department will be updating the mini-master plan for Lower Chester Park.
Congdon Park Hockey is seeking the community’s support related to this mini-master plan process. In addition to a letter and email writing campaign targeting key decision makers, Congdon Park Hockey is encouraging supporters to sign this petition and will provide the results of the petition to the Duluth City Council and the Duluth Parks and Recreation Department.
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