Monroe votes to close ice rink complex; residents fight to save it

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It is game over in Monroe as the city votes to shut down its only community sports complex - but some residents are still fighting to keep it open.

Ice hockey in Monroe is on borrowed time  - city leaders say it doesn't make sense financially to keep it open devastating news for players coaches and parents.

"We would come here and there would be pickup games constantly," said Tom Wasner, a Monroe resident. "There are leagues going on all the time, they had two different rinks."

Wasner has more than his fair share of memories playing ice hockey at Monroe's multi-sports complex

His son Cade will not.

"My son is starting to play," Wasner said. "This is his first IP program that he's in. He's 5 years old and now it's heartbreaking."

The Monroe City Council voted to not set aside $200,000 to keep the ice rink open in the 2016-2017 budget.

They plan to repurpose the sports complex and ice hockey will not be a part of it.

"We have to find a new place to skate and they're high schoolers," said Cameron Barron, a hockey coach. "They have to drive 20-30 minutes up the road just to get the ice rink."

"The kids need this facility," said Dawn Godo, of the Journey Figure Skating Club. "There is nothing  in the city at all. This facility acutally helps everyone in our county."

And Monroe Mayor Robert Clark says, therein lies the problem.

"For instance we used to have 483 participants in our youth hockey league," Clark said. "This year of those 75, only 34 are residents in the city of Monroe. So who are the citizens of Monroe servicing?"

But those against closing the ice rink say the city may not have considered its economic impact.

"Whenever there's a tournament here, there's hotel dollars. parents or families before every or after every game utilize the restaurants in the city of Monroe," said Ginger Stuck, a Monroe Township resident. "That's revenue that's going to go right out the door."

Clark says the city will broaden the complex's use with more sports and cultural events. In the meantime a Monroe resident started an online petition to keep the ice arena open.

"Whatever it takes," Wasner said. "I think everyone should pitch in and do what it takes to keep this thing going."

About a thousand people have signed that Change.org petition urging the mayor to keep the ice rink open. The city plans to have it closed by July.

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