‘Flooding the rink’ takes on new meaningLast week, Esko community members started dismantling the hocky shelter, located at 62 Canosia Road in Esko. The shelter suffered significant damage from flood waters in June, leaving behind mold and other problems would likely translate into a building that would have to be condemned if left alone. Donations in support of the shelter can be sent to the Esko Youth Hockey Association, Republic Bank, 3 Thomson Road, Esko, MN 55733.
By: Wendy Johnson, Pine Journal
Esko hockey mom Dana Kazel admits she complained at times about the intensive youth hockey practice schedule, and that she sometimes dragged her feet when her turn to work the concession stand at the Esko hockey shelter rolled around.
“But suddenly, those seem like such minor inconveniences,” reflected Kazel in her personal blog following extensive flood damage to the Esko Hockey Shelter in June.
Kazel and dozens of other community members gathered with hammers and crowbars last Wednesday night to begin the process of tearing apart the mold-riddled hockey shack so that it can be rebuilt. The move came after Esko Youth Hockey and Skating Association board members worked extensively with inspectors, insurance adjusters, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) authorities and other officials to determine the extent of damage at the shelter and the best plan to move forward. After considering numerous options and the costs associated with each, the Hockey Association decided to tear apart and restore the existing building.
The shack, located at 62 Canosia Road in Esko, suffered significant damage from the flood waters, leaving behind mold and other problems that Kazel said would likely translate into a building that would have to be condemned. And so, the Esko Hockey Association, parents and community members gathered together to gut the shack, tearing out the insulation and particle board that was ruined after it wicked up the flood water and began to foster mold growth.
“Everything had to come out,” said Kazel after last week’s demolition session. “Furniture and equipment that could be saved is now in storage, and anything that was damaged now fills a large dumpster, with more piled against the building to fill a second load.”
The prospect of simply doing nothing to save the local hockey shack wasn’t even on the community’s radar.
“This building is an important resource for our community,” said Steve Lanthier, president of the Esko Youth Hockey and Skating Association, “– not just for the dozens of children and families involved in youth hockey, but for everyone in the region who comes to the rinks in the winter for free skating.”
In addition to its use as a warming house for skaters, the building serves as a locker room for the Esko High School football team. It’s also been used for birthday parties, meetings and other community gatherings.
By the middle of this week, the entire interior of the shelter had been gutted by the community volunteers who stepped forward to lend a hand. According to Esko Youth Hockey Association board member Crystal Kilichowski, the next step will be for the city inspector to come and take a look at the building itself to determine whether it is salvageable. The inspector’s visit was slated for Thursday.
“We’re pretty much up in the air until we know where things stand, based on what the inspector says,” said Kilichowski, who has two sons who play hockey. “If we can move forward with restoring the current building, we will.”
Even at that, however, Kilichowski said the cost of repairing the building at this point may be more than it’s worth, at which point the board would have to make a decision whether to opt for a new building. She said plans are in place to find out if and how repairing or rebuilding the hockey shelter can be financed, including working with FEMA and the school.
Kilichowski said in either case, it is highly unlikely that anything can be done in time for this year’s skating season, adding the Hockey Association will probably look into renting ice in either Carlton or Cloquet to sustain the youth hockey program during the interim.
The Esko Youth Hockey Association is an all-volunteer organization that serves children ages 4-9 who play at the Mite I and Mite II level, with an annual enrollment averaging around 36 players. The hockey association also maintains the outdoor ice rinks in Esko for the community to use at no charge, and teaches Learn to Skate classes for 3- to 5-year-olds through the Esko community education program.
In the meantime, scores of kids, parents and community members are saddened by the fate of the local hockey shelter.
“This building has served as a sort of home away from home for us the last three winters,” said Kazel, who has two young children who both learned to skate at the local rink and shelter. “Other than home and work, I probably spend more waking hours there than anywhere else….when I think of where I most feel community, besides my church, this is the place.”
Donations in support of the shelter can be sent to the Esko Youth Hockey Association, Republic Bank, 3 Thomson Road, Esko, MN 55733.