Oak Creek Town Board approves joint operating agreement for ice rink

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— Oak Creek Town Board unanimously agreed to a memorandum of understanding with the Oak Creek Hockey Association on Thursday night - the first joint-operating agreement for the Oak Creek Ice Rink in the history of the facility.

Although the hockey association long has acted as the de facto operator of the ice rink during the winter months, it has done so in the absence of any kind of formal agreement with the town, which owns the rink.

Under the agreement approved Thursday, the town will oversee rink operations, maintenance and security from April 1 through Sept. 30 annually, and the Oak Creek Hockey Association will be in charge during the other months of the year.

Finalization of the agreement was put on hold in December, partly because of criticisms from the Town Board about insufficient public skate time, especially for working families.

Since the Town Board's Dec. 11 meeting, the hockey association extended public skating hours from 3:45 to 6 p.m. Tuesdays and Wednesdays and added an already popular Moms & Tots session from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays. Public skating hours will remain from 3:45 to 4:45 p.m. Mondays, Thursdays and Fridays.

"We're not trying to keep the public out of there, and I hope no one thought that. We're just trying to find the times that work best for everyone," Oak Creek Hockey Association President Dina Murray said.

Weekend public skating and stick and puck sessions will be scheduled for 90 minutes each Saturdays and Sundays, with the hours to be announced monthly, according to the agreement. January hours will be weekend public skate from 2 to 3:30 p.m., with stick and puck following from 3:30 to 5 p.m. unless special events have been scheduled.

Volunteers also are organizing a learn-to-skate program, Murray said.

Calendars will be posted at the rink, at the Oak Creek post office, and at the Oak Creek Hockey As-sociation's Web site, www.oakcreekhockey.org, Murray said.

Under the agreement, the town and the hockey association will share the cost of snow removal for the ice rink roof, after the heavy snow load caused significant structural damage last winter. The town will pay insurance costs for the building and site, continue to own and insure the Zamboni, waive utilities and provide snow removal. The hockey association will make and maintain the ice, scoreboard and sound system and schedule referees and Zamboni operators.

Water meter study

The Town Board also decided Thursday to move ahead with hiring a consultant to study water meter feasibility for the town and search for grant funds to pay for their installation. No cost or timeline has been set for the project.

The board budgeted $5,000 for introductory consulting costs in the 2009 budget and hopes to get a scope of work for that amount from potential consultants in coming weeks, Trustee Josh Voorhis said.

The last time the Town Board looked at water meter feasibility, back in the 1990s, the study examined the number of taps in town, water usage, installation costs and return on investment, Trustee Chuck Wisecup said.

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