Liz Voss is not happy with those who vandalized the Peaceful Valley Warming House.
“I think it’s just terrible,” she said Saturday afternoon, as she kept herself comfortably warm in her car as her son practiced his hockey techniques on the ice. “It’s a great place to change into your skates or other clothes without having to sit outside and do it. Families especially love using it.”
The warming house was vandalized last week, and city officials don’t have an exact date of when it will reopen.
“Once the police department makes contact with the vandals, we will reopen the facility,” said Sarah Repp, director of the Antigo Park, Recreation and Cemetery Department. “Unfortunately, the closure was due to damage that occurred repeatedly and was escalating. My concern is that the community facility could have more serious damage requiring a permanent closure, cost the city additional dollars (often only a fraction is able to be recouped through restitution), and pull staff from other duties and priorities to constantly clean and make repairs outside of normal maintenance.”
Although she doesn’t know who is directly responsible for the damage, Voss said students often use the warming house as a gathering place to rough-house after school. They are in the building for prolonged periods of time instead of the quick in-and-out it is designed for, she said.
She questioned why it couldn’t be better monitored, and she wasn’t the only one.
“Maybe park and rec staff should work some evenings and weekend to better serve the public,” Terry Brand said. “Maybe then they could turn the sound system on at the rinks and play some music on that donated PA system. I believe in the summer someone is on duty in the evening. Why not in winter?”
Repp said city workers have a full slate.
“Staff is busy year-round with various duties, and they do an excellent job of balancing recreational opportunities offered to the public, routine maintenance, projects, and prioritizing needs such as burials,” she said. “In addition to our staff, we are fortunate to have a strong group of volunteers that provide assistance and support for the programs, projects and activities we offer. Volunteers make many of our programs and projects possible. Staffing the warming house, offering limited concessions, playing music, and even having skates available for use would be an excellent volunteer opportunity for an individual, group or organization.”
Repp reminds residents that, although frustrating, closure of the warming house does not prevent access to the rinks.