Letter: 'West Hartford's Children Are Raised in Our Ice Rink'

A reader writes a passionate plea against the privatization of West Hartford's Veterans Memorial Skating Rink.

Credit: Veterans Memorial Ice Skating Rink
Credit: Veterans Memorial Ice Skating Rink

The following letter was posted on the West Hartford Patch Opinion board. Click here to share your own letter to the editor or opinion piece.

Dear Mayor Slifka, Ron Van Winkle and members of the West Hartford Town Council,

We are writing today in support of The Veterans Memorial Skating Rink remaining in the West Hartford Family.

Our family is extremely proud to say that each one of us has been employed at the rink at some point since 1990.

Ray worked as a supervisor for 15 years until 2005. Our oldest son, Larry, our daughter, Emilee and our youngest son, Bryan were also employed there. I myself worked in the office for a short time period.

We have experienced the privilege of watching the citizens of town flow through this facility as, customers, friends, family, co-workers, students and athletes. Veterans Memorial rink has proven itself to be part of this town’s fabric and lively hood.

It is important to recognize the positive influence of the work opportunities given to the youth of West Hartford. It is a safe environment and it has offered each the sense of contributing to their hometown by serving their fellow citizens and working with their neighborhood friends and peers. They glean a sense of community that is born from serving their community.

West Hartford has her outside influences with Blue Back Square and other entities. But, we must be very careful to not let our foot slip into relinquishing our home town to private ownership that invests in self interests. Although, through privatization, the rink would remain physically in the town, it would lose its "Norman Rockwell" appeal as a part of the heart of our community. To systematically amputate the branches of our West Hartford heritage by submission to outside management, will create division and a generic town. 

West Hartford’s children are raised in our ice rink. As employees and as attenders, our family has witnessed her families entering the doors as patrons with their “rink rats” running around as their siblings learn to skate. Those youth soon don their own blades, sliding across the ice being cheered on by parents, siblings, grandparents and neighbors. Victorious in competitions and in high school, they glide onto the ice as their names are announced with each assist, each goal and each winning competition. Then one day, tears of pride flow as the last page of their youth turns to Senior Day and they stand proudly with those parents who brought them long ago to learn to skate. They move on to their futures and many times, the story recycles all over again as they return to West Hartford placing those shiny blades onto the precious feet of their children. They recount to those children how it was when they were little, lived in West Hartford and came to Veterans Memorial Skating Rink and in many cases, worked with their friends.

We urge you to consider preserving Veterans Memorial Skating Rink as a West Hartford community treasure, managed by our town, generating revenue for the people of our town.

There is a strong sense of family that West Hartford offers to her citizens. Our family has been blessed to be embraced by the arms of a town that shares and cares for her own. We must honor that gift and stand strong in the face of dividing up her strengths and weakening her foundation.


Ray and Leesa Philippon and Family


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