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Hales Corners tries to put rink idea on ice

Dec. 11, 2012

Hales Corners - The Friends of Hales Corners Park and Pool, local businesses and local donors want to honor an Olympian speed-skating resident, and not by merely putting up a plaque or mentioning her in their newsletter.

Appropriately, they intend to create a place, carrying her name, where locals to ice skate.

The Alyson Dudek International Ice Center has won the support of the village, passing the plan commission unanimously Nov. 19. The only slippery spot in the path to an ice center lies in fundraising.

The center, a public-private partnership, won't be funded by village taxes, but through donations by businesses and residents.

After saving the pool from being torn down, the Friends of Hales Corners Park and Pool turned their sites on other aspects of public recreation. A basketball court and Jake's Rock, both initiatives by the group, were installed in the park in the subsequent years.

Recalling Hales Corners' past, when Milwaukee County would freeze the tennis courts for skating, Don Schwartz, president of the Friends of Hales Corners Pool, said "over the years people were telling me that it was great that the pool was open, but it would be great if you could bring ice skating back."

A race to win

The ice talks came to a head during a fundraiser to bring Dudek to the 2009 Olympics.

Schwartz and others were skating around ideas of how to honor her after the fundraiser. They thought a plaque or a day recognizing her would work until the thought came to them as clear as ice: honor her by giving the city an amenity.

While the group was discussing what to do, Dudek's team won bronze in Vancouver.

And thus began the group's talks with the Milwaukee County park system.

After a year of drawing board discussions, a committee was formed in December of 2011 to push the skating rink through.

The final plan is to have the rink be a 100-by-200-foot Olympic-sized, outdoor rink with a 20-by-40-foot pavilion, which would be adorned with plaques recognizing Dudek's victories and competitions. The pavilion would also house permanent indoor restrooms.

Breaking the ice

The initial plan was to speed the skating rink along and have it built this year, but due to the need to generate more funds, the group has decided to wait until next year.

They have raised $20,000 for the rink so far, but to make the demountable rink a reality, the group must raise an additional $40,000.

The $40,000 would pay for the first phase, which would include the rink but not a pavilion. To include a pavilion, which would be in second phase, the group would have to raise an additional $50,000.

Some local businesses have answered the call. McDonald's has pledged to donate 20 percent of their Thursday night funds to the ice rink. Several businesses have put up donation jugs, and the Friends of Hales Corners Park and Pool are currently accepting any donations.

On Alyson

Dudek grew up gliding on the ice. Skating was a big part of her family life, complete with regular trips to the Pettit National Ice Center.

When the 1998 Olympics Winter Olympics took place, an 8-year-old Alyson said that she really liked the speed skaters. Not missing a beat, the family signed her up to the West Allis speed-skating club.

From there, she applied a lot of work to a natural talent and ended up on the national team in 2009, eventually winning bronze in 2010. She continues to compete nationally and plans to race in the 2014 Winter Olympics.

Her father, Rob Dudek, said "I think that this is just a really nice way for Friends of the Hales Corners Park and Pool and the people of Hales Corners to honor all the hard work and commitment she has put into speed skating."

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