Lonsdale News Review:

Trcka Park in Lonsdale is a field of possibilities, especially for Tri-City United soccer and hockey families.

The park, which had its groundbreaking in fall 2017, currently lacks a shelter as well as restrooms and drinking fountains. The Lonsdale City Council and TCU Hockey Association would also like to see a full-size paved hockey/ice rink on the property.

If awarded a $250,000 Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Outdoor Recreation Grant, the city would pursue construction of these amenities. The DNR awarded the city with a similar grant of $25,000 in 2015 for the fishing pier and boardwalk project in the Rezac Nature Preserve at Hidden Willow Pond.

“It’s a big deal because there’s not a full-size hockey rink [in Lonsdale],” said Ben Baker, city planner. “People are traveling just for practices. It’s hard to host games.”
At its March 25 meeting, the City Council reviewed and approved the grant application, which was submitted later that week. Baker expects the city to learn whether it’s been approved in late June or early July. Since the grant is quite competitive, he said the city would reapply next March should the DNR deny the request.
The city would be required to match the grant, if awarded. The TCU Hockey Association has agreed to upgrade wooden hockey boards and fiberglass for the project, and the city plans to seek other donations from local contractors to reduce costs. Another option is turning to the city’s Park Fund and Liquor Fund to find the money.
The grant would cover a hockey rink for year-round use, so Baker said the space could be used for basketball hoops and pickle ball courts during warmer months. The shelter would serve as a warming house for players during winter and an area to block out the sun or rain for the rest of the year.

Both the TCU Hockey Association and the TCU Soccer Club fully support the efforts to bring these amenities to Trcka Park. In separate letters of support, TCU Hockey Board member Andrew Burns and TCUSC Soccer Director Erin Buckingham described how the planned park projects would benefit local athletes.

From October until the outdoor rinks in Lonsdale and Montgomery can be flooded, so TCU hockey teams hold practices at Shattuck-St. Mary’s in Faribault. At about 45 miles round trip and with practices three times per week, the mileage and travel time adds up.

“Once we have outdoor ice, we cancel all of indoor practices in order to save money being that we are such a small hockey association, and we want to keep our prices low for our families,” Burns wrote in his letter of support. “Currently, we still have to keep TCU games indoors, however, because we don’t have a safe, regulation size rink in any of our communities.”

With 24 members, boys and girls from preschool to fifth-grade in the association’s three levels, Burns hopes to see the team membership grow with the implementation of a regulation size rink in Lonsdale.

The warming house/shelter is an amenity both Burns and Buckingham support. For Burns, hockey players currently lack a large enough space for two teams to gear up for games simultaneously. A warming house could let players avoid the trouble of getting ready at home.

During soccer season, Buckingham said players could seek shade beneath the shelter or stay dry on rainy days. She also expressed support for water fountains to keep athletes hydrated all year.

“Our TCUSC program has over 150 players, their families, 30-plus coaches and referees,” said Buckingham in her letter of support. “The benefits from the shelter, restrooms and running water will be beneficial to all that come and participate and enjoy soccer events.”

Like Burns, Buckingham believes these amenities would make home games possible for her athletes and allow for program expansion.



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