Edison Park residents raise concerns about new roller hockey rink

CHICAGO (WLS) -- A new roller hockey rink is being built in Chicago's Edison Park neighborhood - and that's a surprise to some residents who live near the construction site.

The rink is being built by the city with funds donated by the Chicago Blackhawks, but some neighbors are upset because they were not told the project was in the works.

Cell phone video from two weeks ago shows trees being cut down in Brooks Park one day after the 41st Ward alderman announced on his Facebook page that the Blackhawks were paying for a new sport-court floored roller hockey rink.
"Every entity involved has the best of intentions here. We just need to make sure the proper protocols are in place," Michelle Molise said.

Hawks fan and park neighbor Molise -- who would see the court from her front window -- says neighbors on the flood-prone street welcome the amenity, but little about it has been shared with them.

"What we are concerned with is the heavy rainfall," Molise said.

But little about it has been shared with them - just promises an underground vault capable of holding millions of gallons of water is part of the project to reduce flooding.
"We would love to have some documentation shown to us - planning, permitting, flood safety studies," Molise said.

Molise arranged a community meeting at the park's field house this past Monday, where she said more than 100 people voiced their displeasure with the rink. Neighbor Dan Martin was there, too, but supports it.

"I grew up playing football on the fields, and we would have loved to play hockey in a rink," he said.

Alderman Anthony Napolitano attended as well, yet maintains opposition pales in comparison to the "thousands" of voices of support he says he's received, especially online. He's not apologizing for the speed of the project.

"This was the Blackhawks saying, 'We want to grow this game in the city of Chicago, we'd like to do this throughout the city, let's get rockin' and rollin' on this' And I said, 'Hey, thank you for this gift,'" Ald. Napolitano said.

The Chicago Blackhawks would not comment, but the alderman affirmed getting the rink done by the time the NHL Draft comes to Chicago next month makes for optics that might need explaining.

Blackhawks President John McDonough grew up in the neighborhood and paraded the Stanley Cup through the very fields where the new rink would go after the team's 2010 championship.

The residents here say if they're not heard in a proper forum and information is not shared with them, they'll take legal action through the Attorney General's office.
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