City officials take over Mt. Pleasant Ice Arena

August 18, 2007|By Nicole Fuller | Nicole Fuller,sun reporter

The Baltimore Department of Recreation and Parks has taken over management of the Mount Pleasant Ice Arena after the city was unable to negotiate a contract with the company that had managed the site for more than two decades, officials said.

The ice arena -- which is used by Olympic gold-winner Dorothy Hamill -- is set to reopen in October, and patrons will not be affected by the change, said Portia Harris, associate director of recreation and parks.

A representative from Baltimore Ice Sports Inc., which managed the site in Northeast Baltimore for the past 23 years, could not be reached for comment.

"There were questions about their ability to manage it efficiently," Harris said. "To assure that it is open and operating for the coming winter season, we stepped in. We are very ready and able to consistently operate the facility, and we don't anticipate any problem in doing so."

A statement on the Web site for the company reads, "Baltimore Ice Sports Inc. is saddened to relinquish management of the Mount Pleasant Ice Arena, after 23 years of community service to the community, due to the following abrupt action taken by the Baltimore City Department of Recreation and Parks. We wish all our customers, friends, associates and hard working staff well in the future."

Baltimore Ice Sports also posted on its Web site an e-mail exchange between the company's Pat Dirzuweit and Connie A. Brown, the city's recreation and parks director. Harris confirmed that the e-mails were authentic.

Dirzuweit wrote Brown on July 23: "We are very concerned that we have not received a contract for the management of the Mt. Pleasant Ice Arena. ... Since we have not received any correspondence following the information provided in May and in an effort to continue to serving the community, we have issued contracts for most of our customers and have completed the majority of the ice scheduling for the coming season. ... Our growing debt is still outstanding since our closing in May, so we look forward to opening in September with our returning customers providing the much needed resources to begin lowering this balance."

Brown responded two days later: "You are to cease and desist immediately contracting with any agency. ... You do not have the authority, or the permission, from the Baltimore Department of Recreation and Parks, to contract on our behalf for the coming season."

Harris said she could not discuss in detail the issues that led to the end of the city's relationship with Baltimore Ice Sports.

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