How Much Have We Lost?

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Ice Rinks Become Political in 2013

The other day, I dropped my girls off at the Mt. Vernon Ice Skating Rink for the weekly Skate Night.  Skate Night is basically a bunch of 5th through 8th graders skating in circles with disco lights, music, and a bunch of parents huddled in the stands gossiping away.

I've been going to this rink and the Rec Center my entire life.  Skated there and played in the pool as a kid.  We did infant swimming lessons there with my girls.  My children have taken soccer classes and gymnastics at the Lee District Recreation Center.

One night, I noticed a plaque outside the entrance to the skating rink.  It said the following:

In 1978, the Fairfax County Park Authority opened the region's first public indoor ice skating rink significantly enhancing opportunities for healthful activities, competition and leisure time pursuits available to Fairfax County residents.  The Mount Vernon Ice Skating Rink would not have become a reality without the tireless support and effort of:
Warren I. Cikins
Mt. Vernon District Supervisor
1975-79
During the session, I read Ken Cuccinelli’s new book.  In the book, he wrote the following:

As a result of the unfair competition of the government-owned rec center, not only is the business person essentially prevented from doing business (his liberty—his opportunity to pursue happiness—curtailed), but the citizens are also harmed because everyone has to pay for the rec center through taxes, even if they never use it.  
                                                   - Ken Cuccinnelli, The Last Line of Defense, Page 241
This left me scratching my head.

I have been talking to some of the older residents of my district who were very involved in the construction of this facility.  As you can imagine, they have a different point of view.

Supervisor Cikins representative to the Fairfax County Park Authority, Glen Fatzinger, was the first person to write to me.  Here's what he wrote to me:
As chairman of the Mount Vernon Council's Environmental Affairs and Recreation Committee and subsequently Warren Cikins' Mount Vernon appointee to the Fairfax County Park Authority, I was tasked with bringing to fruition the public's desires for an indoor ice rink in Mount Vernon. A massive citizen survey of what was desired for our Mount Vernon District Park revealed that an indoor ice rink was the number 1 priority. When I was appointed to the Park Authority, I worked very hard with the other Park Authority members and Warren Cikins as well as other members of the County Board of Supervisors to ensure that this project was completed.   
Contrary to Cucinnelli's comment, we searched for an entrepreneur to build and operate a public ice rink in our area but no one was interested in doing that, so we proceeded with it as a publicly-funded project with the admission charges paying for the operating expenses. Cucinnelli is simply wrong as we did not deprive any private sector person from operating such a facility--no one was interested in the project. Cucinnelli should get his facts straight!

Then I heard from Supervisor Cikins himself.  I've posted a history that he wrote about the center back in 1994.  The arguments used to defeat it almost seem quaint.

Today, thousands of people use this facility every week. It's one of the few places ice hockey teams can play given that there are only five indoor ice arenas in Northern Virginia.  The Washington Capitols used it as a practice facility for a period of time.  West Potomac High School has even produced an Olympic figure skater- Ashley Wagner

It's mind boggling to me that anyone could be opposed to public recreational facilities like this today.  These facilities are critical pieces of our quality of life in Fairfax County. 


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