Hockey dads are in the warming dog house with City

Northfield Hockey Association warming houseI guess the Northfield Hockey Association (NHA) dads are taking the approach that it’s easier to ask forgiveness than it is to get permission. In today’s Nfld News: Despite city’s objections, volunteers build warming house at rink.

Northfield Hockey Association warming house Northfield Hockey Association warming house - stop work order Northfield Hockey Association warming house

On Nov. 27, a group of Northfield Hockey Association fathers built the 480-square-foot structure at the rink outside of the ice arena to give skaters a place to lace up, despite warnings from officials that they did not have city approval. “It’s city property and they don’t have a permit and they don’t have permission,” Building Official Jim Kessler said. “They were told (on) Wednesday not to build it. They built it on Friday anyway.”


  1. Patrick Enders said:

    I think this is called “creating facts on the ground.”

    December 6, 2009
  2. Rob Hardy said:

    There seems to be an epidemic of this permit-less building lately. In Minneapolis, it was an illegal sidewalk on city property. Citizens going rogue and creating public amenities at their own expense. How disturbing.

    December 6, 2009
  3. Patrick Enders said:

    This action does show a remarkable disregard for city property – not to mention the law.

    If this is allowed to stand without any consequences, would anyone like to go over to Memorial Park and help me build a Skate Park?

    December 6, 2009
  4. Patrick Enders said:

    Interesting article – presenting much the same issues as this local building project.

    A warming hut would probably be a nice thing to have around – it’s too bad that they couldn’t wait for actual permission to build it. Now, in addition to issues of inspection and “encroach[ing] on the Jefferson Parkway right-of-way and drainage easements,” the city has to look to any precedents that this might set regarding city control over city property.

    December 6, 2009
  5. Jim Haas said:

    Mayor Mary should step in and do whatever it takes to make sure the warming house stays and is used.

    A friend of mine was an “urban guerrilla gardener.” She and her cohorts beautified many public areas in St. Paul — boulevards, little neglected corners of parks, and the like — at their own expense and without anyone’s permission. They had tried to negotiate the city’s bureaucratic labyrinth, but gave up and decided to just do it. St. Paul is a prettier place because of them.

    The cliche “no harm, no foul” seems to apply.

    December 6, 2009
  6. Rob Hardy said:

    The warming house probably isn’t, as my comment seems to imply, a “pubic amenity.” Darn that embarrassing typo!

    December 6, 2009
  7. Robbie Wigley said:

    Interesting…. this is in the time honored tradition of Dallas Haas… build it first and get permission after. Worked for him!

    December 6, 2009
  8. Griff Wigley said:

    I fixed that ‘pubic’ typo, Rob, tho you’ve now given me an idea for a faux news piece. 😉

    December 6, 2009
  9. Here’s a more complete entry than Wikipedia on Dallas Haas from the NHS Sesquicentennial Timeline project:

    1980 Dallas Haas purchases the Nutting Block at 220 Division Street and converts the 1893 building into a business mall with offices upstairs instead of apartments. Haas is honored as Northfield’s Employer of the Year by Northfield High School’s Vocational Industrial Clubs of America and in 1981 Dallas and Sandy Haas are presented with a bronze plaque for their restoration efforts by the City Council and the Heritage Preservation Commission.
    “With Many Projects Under Way, Haas Dies at age 56,” Northfield Ink, by Maggie Lee, 201-03

    1981 Dallas Haas buys the Stuart Hotel at 212 Division Street and renames it the Archer House, its name when constructed in 1877. In 1982 the portico across the front of the hotel is built and in 1983 Dallas and Sandy Haas of Dallas Haas Construction are honored as Industry of the Year by the Northfield Area Chamber of Commerce and the Northfield Industrial Corporation. An addition to the west side of the hotel is made in 1992.
    Northfield History and Architecture,p. 55; Northfield Downtown Guidebook, p. 27; “Northfield Buildings Reborn,” by Bill McGrath, Faribault Daily News, 12/10/1981; “With Many Projects Under Way, Haas Dies at Age 56,” by Maggie Lee, Northfield Ink, 201-03

    Dallas Haas died in 1995. Maggie Lee writes that Haas had let the James-Younger Gang camp behind the Archer House during Defeat of Jesse James Days and after one of the bank raid re-enactments after his death, the gang lined up, gave a 21-gun salute and heard the reading of a eulogy.

    December 7, 2009
  10. Griff Wigley said:

    Thanks for the Dallas Haas info, Susan. Here’s a photo of him from the NHS archives, currently in rotation on KYMN’s website:

    December 12, 2009
  11. kiffi summa said:

    I don’t understand what the BIG WUP was here… the city has NO $$, the Hockey parents are always donating time and $$; it seems to me in order to avail themselves of a free amenity, “the city” should have said ‘MUCHO gracias’ and “Thank You VERY much, and then helped with any placement restrictions (drainage easement???), and forms needed.

    Looks like a badly placed case of ‘authority anxiety’ to me… not a dangerous ‘precedent’.

    December 13, 2009
  12. Griff Wigley said:

    City of Northfield outdoor hockey rink

    I stopped by the rink on Sunday morning. The warming house is still not open. And to add insult to injury, the ice was pretty crappy despite the two weeks of cold weather. (In the photo, a racquetball buddy, Aaron Jacobson, and his son.)

    Patty Picha has a letter to the editor in Saturday’s Nfld News. It begins:

    The city of Northfield was upset that proper procedure was not followed in building the warming house on city property near the outdoor ice rink, near the ice arena. They actually should be thrilled that the hockey association took the leadership and got it done!

    What a deal the city did not have to spend a dime getting it done! The city was aware of the need for a warming house last year, so why did they not initiate the steps to build a warming house? Last year a bench was provided outside to put skates on, the cold weather elements proved of course, that this was a poor setup. I have been in many communities that have an outside hockey rink, but never just a bench sitting outside for putting on skates! The arena manager did place rugs leading to a door inside the arena, but that was a distance to manage, and the door was many times locked and unable to gain access.

    December 14, 2009
  13. John S. Thomas said:

    What are we looking for here, a pardon?

    Laws and ordinances are there for a reason.

    Everyone wants to crucify one person with the ordinances in this town, and in the next breath, give a group a pass on them.

    You cannot have it both ways.

    The building was built illegally, and must be brought into compliance before it can be finished and occupied.

    Who is going to be liable if someone gets injured?

    December 14, 2009
  14. John S. Thomas said:

    I pose the same question back: If the Hockey Dads wanted to build and donate a warming house, why did they not initiate the steps to build a warming house with the city earlier in the year?

    December 14, 2009
  15. John S. Thomas said:

    I should add, I think the addition of the warming house is a great thing. However, it must be done right, within the law to ensure safe occupancy and compliance.

    I do think there has to be a way that this can come to a mutually beneficial settlement. Things, no matter how grand and helpful they are to the community, cannot be done in direct violation of laws and ordinances.

    Those laws are there for the protection of the community.

    December 14, 2009
  16. john george said:

    John S.- I’m with you on this one. There is the posibility to obtain the proper paperwork at this point, pay any necessary fines, determine ownership, and proceed with the project. You bring up a good point in liability with the building. Are the “hockey dads” going to carry the liability insurance and maintain the building? Or, is this a “gift” to the city, with all the future maintainence, insurance, what-have-you, becoming the city’s responsibility? Some pretty simple questions, or so it seems, but sometimes the answers are unclear if it isn’t properly defined up front. Hopefully, no one’s nose is out of joint and the project will be able to be completed in time for this season.

    December 14, 2009
  17. Jane Moline said:

    I think the Hockey dads did the right thing and everybody else is full of themselves and they should all CHILL.

    December 16, 2009
  18. William Siemers said:

    Jane…I would like the neighborhood children to be able to sit and contemplate the beauty of Hidden Valley Park on even the coldest days. So it’s ok for me to build a warming shack (on the park property behind Griff’s house), without the involvement of city permitting and planning?

    December 17, 2009
  19. Jane Moline said:

    William: your analogy lacks– logic.
    There seems to be a dearth of facts–I don’t even think the shack is on public land and I am pretty sure it is not on any right of way (although the city would like to think of it as a right-of-way, they have yet to make it so).

    I don’t think the Hockey Dads were trying to do anything other than give temporary shelter to kids lacing up or unlacing skates.

    Like I said–everybody needs to take a deep breath and chill–and the city can make the Hockey Dads take the whole thing down in the spring instead of stomping their feet and throwing a hissy fit because their feelings got hurt. Just make it work. (And, after taking it back down in the spring, the Hockey Dads will never do it again because taking it down is going to be even more unpleasant than putting it up.) And next time they will put it on skids so they can haul it in and out.

    December 17, 2009
  20. Patrick Enders said:

    Whose property do you think the warming shack is on?

    December 17, 2009
  21. kiffi summa said:

    Patrick: Whose dollars were the Hockey Dads spending for the sake of both the kids, and the city’s amenities?

    For someone who’s always linking up to Talking Points Memo, (my home page for news also) you sure have an authoritarian POV, or… I’m sorry if I’ve missed a valid point made!

    December 17, 2009
  22. Patrick Enders said:

    If the warming hut is on private land, as Jane suggests, then there is no public interest in the matter one way or another – beyond any permits that may have been required as for any other building project. Problem solved.

    Otherwise, John and John and William have already explained the potential problem. Also, see the article above that Rob linked, or the original article in the News.

    In addition, you should check out the cool new skate park that I’m going to build in Memorial Park this spring – with my own dollars. It’ll be for the sake of both the kids, and the city’s amenities!

    December 17, 2009
  23. kiffi summa said:

    Go for it, Patrick… I’m sure you’d have a lot of helping hands.
    Just make sure it isn’t too cool for a RELATIVELY ( how the ‘ho-tel do you spell that?) OLD GUY like you to cruise, once you get it built!

    December 17, 2009
  24. Robbie Wigley said:

    I may be totally naive about these things but I am going to employ an endearing “Margery Cox tactic” and ask…. What is the difference between the warming shack at the skating rink and the numerous shacks dragged out on public lakes every winter… there doesn”t seem to be any code requirements or expectations as to how tacky or elaborate they are. Some of them look like they could blow over in a good wind… plus who is responsible when they fall through the ice. They are on public land… aren’t they? If the warming house was on skids would that make a difference, or if it were actually located on the ice…. Some how this all doesn’t seem logical to me.

    December 17, 2009
  25. Patrick Enders said:

    Cool. Will you and Victor also help me solve the public parking situation by paving Central Park? Again, we’d use private cement to do the work, and it’d be a valuable and much-needed city amenity.

    December 17, 2009
  26. john george said:

    Robbie- If you walk up and check out any of these “…numerous shacks dragged out on public lakes every winter…”, you will find a small aluminum “license” affixed to each of them, purchased from the DNR. If I remember the rules correctly, any house not having this license, along with the owner’s name and phone number, is subject to immediate removal, usually done with a match.

    December 17, 2009
  27. kiffi summa said:

    Patrick: NO WAY! = Bad Outcome!

    Skatepark plaza = YES

    Parking lot = NO

    December 18, 2009
  28. john george said:

    Patrick- I had some friends a number of years ago who decided to go ice fishing one January day. By the time they got a hole cut in the ice large enough to launch the boat, they were too tired to fish, so they went home.

    December 18, 2009
  29. Kathie Galotti said:

    Nfld news is reporting that the city building inspector issued a permit for the warming house. Huzzah.

    December 29, 2009
  30. Griff Wigley said:

    Thanks, Kathie. The article: City permits warming shack construction.

    The warming house could be used by hockey players as soon as next week, and the City Council is scheduled to consider approving public use at its Jan. 19 meeting.

    I thought it was already being used.

    December 30, 2009
  31. kiffi summa said:

    There is a longer article now; I think the title is something like “City Issues Permits for Warming Shack”. It quotes Mr. Walinski as saying the city was never against the shack, it was a “breakdown of communication”…
    How many times have we heard that explanation?

    My concern is this: this council (the 4 new members) has stated since they were elected, and even before as they campaigned, that they intended to improve the communications and information delivery of the city to its residents. That was either their first or second stated goal.

    It has been a year, and we are still having “communication breakdowns” that are not in favor of the citizens, and seem to only reinforce the attitude that city hall functions for its regulating self first, and citizens second, creating an unnecessary feeling of adversarial positioning.

    Requiring a citizen to fill out a data practice request to get a piece of public information ( such as a council meeting disc) is another piece of bureaucratic restriction that is citizen unfriendly, and probably illegal, if just not ridiculously unnecessary.
    (reason for this new rule stated as costs of having more than ONE disc, keeping track of it, etc. I would be willing to bet it takes more time and wages to keep track of the paperwork than to let the computer make a very inexpensive [[ 5 cents?] disc.)

    I sincerely hope that in this New Year, the new members of this council will make good on that goal from last January, and set rules for the staff which make good on their promise of improved communication while actually lessening some of the regulating burden from the staff time.

    December 30, 2009
  32. john george said:

    Seems like this is a key phrase in the article-
    “Northfield hockey dads built the shack at the Ice Arena’s outdoor rink in late November, despite warnings from city officials that they lacked the necessary permits and approvals.”
    Is this correct or not? Communication is a two way street. Just because we think we understand, it isn’t necessarily so until we have the paperwork in hand.

    December 30, 2009
  33. Nicholas Piszczek said:

    If you would like to send those fellows up to Luck Wisconsin that would be great. We could use some impromtu spirit building when it comes to youth Hockey in this town. The village here is ready to tear down our warming house due to a 10 local juvenile thugs having adopted it as their gang clubhouse While 50-60 kids use it on the up and up. An entire Village Administration and enforcement capitulating to 14 year old kids.
    Thats a story…

    February 24, 2010
  34. john george said:

    Nicholas- Sounds just like Democracy across the US right now- the minority rules!

    February 24, 2010
  35. Nicholas Piszczek said:

    Wow– Your not kidding there. The idea that if you work hard and apply yourself the world can be yours is finished. The appuratus has significantly changed what it takes to be personally and professionally sucsessful. This is not synicism at its finest. Peel 1 layer of the onion off and you’ve arrived at the problem. You always new it was in there somewhere but you now no longer have to dig in deep to find it, its on top of you.

    February 25, 2010

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