ALPENA - The Park Family Foundation hosted a meeting Wednesday night that included representatives from each of the Northern Lights Arena user groups. The intent of the meeting was to share information on arena operations and financials, as well as explore ways ice prices and costs to the groups can be discounted further than they have over the last 11 months.
Jim Park, chairman of the Park Family Foundation, said the purpose primarily was to get input from the groups on ways to make using the arena more affordable.
"We want the users to see what we are trying to accomplish and get their input about where we go from here," Park said. "The upcoming season will be very important to the user groups, and we want to be sure they know they are going to be heard."
On Oct. 1 it will be one year since the Alpena County Board of Commissioners approved a proposal from Park to take over day-to-day operations at NLA. In the proposal Park promised to lower the price of ice to $150 an hour for a period of five years. He said he is pleased with how things have gone, but he expects things to continue to improve moving forward into the second year of operations.
"There is always room for improvement in anything you do," Park said. "We probably haven't generated as much revenue as we had hoped, so we aren't quite at break-even, which is all right. Our purpose in life is to make sure we are able to provide facilities at a reasonable rate for people in Alpena and the surrounding areas. Hopefully we will be able to get the ice to be used a little more often. With these rates, the idea was to get everyone to use it more. Tonight we discussed other ways to keep the rates down. That is the whole purpose of the game."
Park has made it his mission to help expand the recreation choices for people in the area and children especially. He said the more money user groups have in their savings accounts, the better of the kids will be.
"The whole idea was to try to keep the prices down and we had some thought tonight about ways we may be able to keep the prices down even lower so we can have more kids be able to afford to take part in the activities here," Park said. "I'm excited for the upcoming year. We see a lot of enthusiasm for all of the users and I think it is going to be a fun year for everybody."
Steve Schulwitz can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 358-5689.