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City hopes to reopen skating pond

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Herrera pushing project

By Mercy Lopez

The Montezuma Skating Pond will soon be resurrected if City Councilor Joey Herrera has his way

The picturesque skating pond was a popular attraction for area residents, and its proponents say it also helped stimulate the economy for years by drawing out-of-town visitors. But it has been more than two decades since the skating pond has been in use.

Herrera, along with roughly a dozen people, including Mayor Alfonso Ortiz, Councilor Vince Howell and city manager Timothy Dodge, met on Monday with several city employees, representatives from United World College and Carlos Lovato and Tony Benavidez, both Montezuma residents, to discuss the city-owned skating pond.

Herrera said many constituents have expressed their wish that the city reopen the skating pond for those adventurous enough to put on ice skates.

“I think it is going to happen on a small scale for now,” Herrera said. “The meeting on Monday was the beginning of the stages for both short-term use and long-term use.”

Herrera has been a strong advocate for opening the attraction. On his social media Facebook page he informed his constituents that city employees were checking the condition of the ice last Thursday. Dodge said the ice needs to be at least 18 inches thick to allow skating.

Herrera hopes the city can open the skating pond within the next few weeks with the help of volunteers. UWC volunteers earlier this month removed rocks and litter from the skating pond area.

Ortiz said the city is currently looking into the possibility of making a bigger dam, but would like to open up the skating pond for recreational use as soon as possible.

“I wonder as we work on enlarging the area, and build up the dam and so forth, if we can do something with permission from the U.S. Corps of Engineers to maintain some kind of skating activities,” Ortiz said. “… We can look at something for next winter at the latest. In the meantime, the city can work on enlarging the area for water storage.”

Dodge directed Chris Cavazos, a city Public Works Department project manager  to find out by Friday how the city can get permission from all organizations, including water users, to open up the skating pond.

“The obstacles we have to go through might seem like we are delaying things, but we are not. We are just following legal requirements ...,” Ortiz said. The skating pond was unbelievably nice, made some of those parks that you see in New York seem meaningless.”

Tony Benavidez, a resident of Montezuma, said, “We need to get the ambience back … I care about the skating pond.”

Dodge said the city could work past the hurdles including any wetland issues.

Herrera said that while the long-term goal is to raise the dam, he’s hoping the city can create “a safe and smooth event within a couple weeks.”

Ortiz is creating a committee to oversee this project in hopes of getting the skating pond opened. There was also discussion on improving the hot springs located on UWC property in Montezuma.