Think about disabled people

To the editor:

I see by your paper that Northfield is considering a new hockey rink or possibly rejuvenating the old hockey rink.

Whatever decision is made, I do hope that conveniences for the handicapped are considered. We are grandparents to two children who play hockey in Northfield. We love to watch the children play; however, it is an endurance test to be able to sit with the team's parents and friends. It is very difficult for my handicapped husband to "crawl" up the steps; some of those steps are so huge that even I, a person with no handicaps, have a difficult time. Then once my husband gets to the top, he can walk to the area where the home team sits, but he has to duck for the beams on his way. You can imagine how difficult it is to walk with a cane and then to duck for each beam. What would happen if he had crutches?

Someone recently who was in a wheelchair could only watch from one area in the present arena. And then in order to watch the game, she had to really stretch from her wheel chair to peer over the boards.

Aren't handicap codes suppose to be applied to all public buildings?

We do appreciate the handicap parking outside the arena.

Ginny Ruppe, Owatonna

Look at all of the sports needs

To the editor:

Touching letters from youth hockey players and the satiric rant from Jordan Sterrer ("I disagree completely ...," Jan. 31) aside, the letter from Richard Goerwitz ("It's time to join forces," Jan. 31) did the best job so far of framing the issue of the ice arena: We need to look at our total community recreational needs.

I have no strong feelings about hockey one way or another, but I do wonder why there seems to be an expectation that the community should invest $8 to $10 million in a recreational facility to support a single sport. Yes, I know that there will also be some time for recreational skating, but we haven't yet heard a groundswell of recreational skaters clamoring for two sheets of indoor ice.

The baseball and soccer folks seem to support their field needs with contributed support from players' families and generous community contributions. Other than the fact that the cost of an ice arena is so high, why should hockey be the beneficiary of public funding? There may be a compelling argument, but the tone of entitlement voiced so far sure hasn't made the case.

In the long run, an indoor ice rink or two may or may not be a community priority, right up there with an indoor pool, a tennis bubble, a skate board park, a curling club, a velodrome, a cricket pitch and, well, who knows what else?

A year or two ago, we had a chance to consider our overall community recreational needs before committing to rebuilding the outdoor pool, but as one city official said, "that train had left the station before any serious public conversation could get started."

Let's not keep making serial decisions about public investments in recreation. Isolated decisions rarely add up to a long-term strategy for understanding and meeting community-wide needs.

Randolph Jennings, Northfield

Lengthening the political season

To the editor:

Letters to the editor were much more fun last fall. Since the political season has been lengthened, and to spark a little interest before "March Madness," how about some poetry ... with deep apologies to all English teachers:

Bushy, Dicky, Rummy, three

Never went to war, you see.

They thrust us in the Iraqi war

Thousands died. We ask, "What for?"

"Cut and run," Bushy did sneer,

To those of us who dared to fear.

Send more troops - never mind the cost

My tough guy image must never be lost.

Our national pride is now at stake


Send more troops - send them fast

It matters not how many will perish.

I pray to the Lord, Bushy did say

But I don't listen, for I know the way.

"Thou shalt not kill,' the Good Book says

But that doesn't apply to our pres.

Deane Richardson, Northfield

Ice skaters want new arena, too

To the editor:

The need is overwhelming for a new ice arena! I am a parent of a child in the Northfield Skating School and I am also an Instructor. It is so very exciting that Northfield has a skating school again. The community has responded with awesome enthusiasm to this great program. However, for any hopes of having a skating club, or to have shows, or to even host competitions we need more ice time and a new ice arena.

I was one of the original members of the Northfield Figure Skating Club; that was 17 years ago. Even then we were on the ice at 5 a.m. before school. That was the only available ice time for us figure skaters. Now all the skating school can get is one day a week on Sundays at various times, which prevents many families from joining. That is very awful and so very unnecessary. These students are our future figure skaters or hockey players, not to mention the great health benefit from the exercise for all of our skaters.

I want the community to realize that it is not only the hockey players that are getting shorted ice time. My family and I have been searching for decent outdoor ice and we can't find any rinks that have decent ice. The majority of them have dirt showing through. There is also a huge need and want for more open skating so that skaters can practice and get more ice time ... even adults looking for a great way to exercise.

Northfield is a beautiful city and there is no reason why we cannot finally have a decent ice arena that we can all be proud of. Please show your support for a new ice arena by submitting letters and contacting council members.

Jessica Bettinger, Dundas

Disaster waiting to happen ...

To the editor:

Northfield - a planned community - may be slapped with the most humungous class-action lawsuit in the history of Minnesota - a medical malpractice suit - specifically, a hospital planning malpractice suit.

Northfield Hospital - "our regional hospital" - has an extremely weak road system infrastructure. While Mayo Clinic was located in the very heart of Rochester, and Johns Hopkins in the very heart of Baltimore, Northfield's Hospital was located in the middle of a cornfield! Idiocy! A hospital is supposed to serve people not corn-bore bugs.

The hospital does have good connection to the west - to Webster, Little Chicago, Lonsdale. But poor connection to the north - to Lakeville and Farmington; poor connection to the south - to St. Olaf College, Malt-o-Meal, Faribault; and very poor connection to the east - to downtown Northfield, Carleton College, Stanton.

Imagine a group of seven Girl Scouts on an early morning bike ride, over by Stanton, during the morning rush hour. Suddenly, the girls are side-swiped by a guy half-crazed on methamphetamine and alcohol, and are sent bleeding into a farm field. By the time the hospital's meatwagons got to them and got them back to the emergency room, all seven would be dead on arrival from a loss of blood. The route is incredibly circuitous, dangerous and time consuming. Time it!

The father of one of the dead girls happens to be a humongously hard-nosed big city lawyer - a specialist in torts - and Northfield is summarily ordered to cough up $700 million, $100 million for each dead girl.

Redemption is real. Northfield taxpayers can save $700 million and Northfield Hospital can have a world-class road system infrastructure. One that serves a broad region, one that brings patients and staff swiftly and safely to its doors.

Simply take a sheet of paper and draw a large tic-tac-toe. Congratulations. You have just drawn "the magic square". The most advanced city plan of any world city - the Northfield master plan - and a paragon plan for a regional hospital.

A city is a system of circulation, according to Le Corbusier, so assign major circulation system elements to your magic square masterwork, your tic-tac-toe.

Left upright is the great 40-mile north/south axis from Cedar-Riverside through Cedar-Galaxie-Foliage-Foliage extended to Dundas and Rice County Road 1/81.

Right upright: Ibson, Ibson extended north to 320th Street.

Top crossbar: 320th connecting Red Wing to western Minnesota, running just north of Waterford.

Bottom crossbar: County Road 1/81.

When you draw a tic-tac-toe, you've drawn a nine-cell magic square where the numbers two, four, six and eight are put in the corner boxes; five is put in the center box; and one, three, seven and nine are put in the side boxes so that all column, ranks, diagonals add up to 15.

Northfield Regional Hospital would lie in the center box, No. 5 - in the upper left corner of box five - affording hypermobility in all directions.

Arthur Paul David White, Northfield

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