Your Letters: Hockey: we simply want our home back
Mr. Roggenkamp, I can sympathize with your feelings towards the Fergus Falls arena and your city council. I would not be happy to see an expensive decision as that was being decided by the council without a large city vote. I do not like my tax money to be handed out either, especially if I am not using it.
The arena in Wadena is a different situation. Some obvious ones are that Fergus does already have an existing arena, we do not. I am not sure, but would have to assume that if the city voted for another arena, that the city owns the original or at least the new one. That tax dollars are being used to build it, operate it and collect the revenue or suffer the losses.
Please try to keep your biased opinion of hockey parents for a minute or two and look openly at this situation. The Wadena Community Center (CC) was built with mostly donated funds and labor. It started as a hockey arena and small exercise part with dreams of adding two more phases on. That was in the middle 80s. The next phases never came around. The CC owns the property exclusively and merely as a friendship agreement with the city, leased the property to the city and the city hired back the CC as managers for $1 to make it listed as public property so there would be no property taxes.
The Wadena Hockey Association (WHA) invested their own money, many donated hours of labor and resources to finish the arena inside. The boards, press box, locker rooms and compressor repairs and many other things were out of the WHA pocketbook with the agreement that once installed, the CC now owned it.
The CC leases the arena side to the WHA. The WHA is the community center's main revenue. The rest is made up from their fees and fundraising. The CC barely gets by as does the WHA. There is no city tax dollars at work here. If there is a profit, it goes to the CC or WHA. If there is a loss, it goes to the CC or the WHA. This has been the agreement for 25 years.
The CC paid for the building insurance. The CC is willing to rebuild the arena side as it was with part of the insurance money. The CC was hockey's place of business. It is where they charge admission, do fundraising and collect revenue from concessions. WHA is not asking for anything more than they had. They just want their place of business back. The CC wants them back so they can start getting their revenue back too.
The city has never really contributed to the CC. There has been some friendly "in kind" work once in a while that went back and forth between the CC, WHA and the city. A few years ago the CC looked into a large remodel and upgrade, but because of a lack of commitment from the city and other large business/organizations in the area, it never developed past the design stage.
I hope you can see how this is a different situation. We just want things back the way they were, all things. We did not just lose the arena. We lost the school we went to and the school my kids were going to. We lost houses, buildings, trees and our memories of how things used to be. We lost our beautiful cemetery and some of the markers. We lost the pool we used to go to and the warming house we stayed in and the outside rink we skated in. We have been barricaded from our homes and violated by common thieves. We have been fixing things since June 18 and a lot of times getting sick of looking at it, thinking about it and living around it. We are surrounded by this devastation every day. Every day we make some progress and every day we shed a tear knowing things are never going to be the same.
I am asking this of you and everyone else to see that we are not just some loud, selfish hockey parents. We do not want anything more than what we had. We are not asking for city help or funds. We were given a chance to lease again from a building the Community Center was willing to build with their insurance money and the city denied the permit. We just want to restore what we had as soon as we can. We liked it the way that it was. We didn't try to change it. While we continue to rebuild houses, schools and businesses, let us rebuild our home too.
Loren Meyer and Kathy Meyer