The City Council meeting on Tuesday was very well attended by families who had been informed the Liewer-Olmstead Ice Arena had been closed due to the increase of positive coronavirus tests in Delta.
City of Delta Junction mayor JW Musgrove sent out an email on Friday outlining the City services that would be affected by the recent increase of positive coronavirus tests saying local City facilities that are not currently available include the Liewer-Olmstead Ice Arena, the community center, senior lounge, and the City Hall conference rooms. Other services currently unavailable within City Hall are notary service and copies, but these services are available at other local businesses, such as Smiling Moose.
City administrator Mary Leith commented in a phone interview prior to Tuesday’s city council meeting that the indoor ice arena was closed in response to the recent COVID-19 suggestions by Governor Mike Dunleavy. Leith did say that the outdoor rink would remain open, although the warming shack will be closed for public use.
The audience gallery in the city council chambers Tuesday night had in excess of 40 people who were passionate about the closure of the ice rink.
Jen Brant from the Delta-Greely Skating Association (DGSA) was first to address the council, outlining the plans that have already been created to help mitigate COVID-19 concerns while still being able to allow the community to have access to the ice arena.
Brant pointed out that the mitigation plan is similar to other localities around the state, including Fairbanks, that are still allowing the use of skating facilities.
DGSA president Todd Zachgo expressed some dismay that the skating association was not included in the decision process for this closure. Zachgo said, “I have always believed if we have a problem in the community, we fix it.”
Zachgo echoed Brant’s comment that there are many other facilities around the state that are still open for hockey. Zachgo said the association works hard to help keep the kids active.
There was a lengthy parade of people who wanted to address the council about this issue. More than 20 people, including several children, exercised their invitation to address the council.
During the council comment period, council member Lou Heinbockel wanted to make sure that the public understood that, “the decision to shut the arena was not that of the council – it was the administration of the City.”
Heinbockel pointedly stated, “I would have resisted closing it in the first place. I don’t want anyone to think that I had a part in shutting it down.”
After considerable discussion, the City Council voted to rescind the closure and reopen the ice arena.
As part of the mitigation plan, the common areas normally open in the ice arena such as the concession stand and restrooms shall remain closed. The outdoor warming shack will also remain closed.
The closure is expected to last for 30 days or until there is a substantial reduction in the presence of positive coronavirus tests in Delta.
Leith said the closure could be shorter or it could also be longer than the 30 days.