Rush for hockey in Williamsport gets predictable result
So the hockey team in the city folded up at the end of the season, leaving Airmen Pond at Bowman Field empty and $36,000-plus in unpaid utility bills.
The City of Williamsport is drafting a letter to send out to the Williamsport Outlaws and the Syracuse Junior Hockey Club, the non-profit organization that ran the public skating portion of the ice rink, asking for the bills to be paid.
Utility payments are three months in arrears and Mayor Gabriel J. Campana said “regardless of who used the field, our contract states they’re responsible for the utility bills.”
That’s fine. But these collections have a way of being more difficult to execute than they appear. And we sure know the city can’t afford to be stuck with the bill following a difficult budget season and tax hike.
The bottom line is that professional hockey for Williamsport is a well-intentioned idea that we support. But it was poorly and too quickly executed this time around. The public time frame between announcement of plans for the outdoor rink and team at Bowman Field and approval of the plan was a mere three days.
And the agreement involved entities with which the city had no prior relationship.
Frankly, this was irresponsible action on behalf of the city’s residents and taxpayers.
A good idea is not enough. Timing and the correct players to execute a practical plan are more important. A year from now, when the city may have an all-purpose arena capable of hosting an ice hockey team, such a franchise might make sense.
We just hope, if such a prospect is being entertained in the future, it isn’t strong-armed through without a deliberate, public examination of the deal as the ill-fated Williamsport Outlaws plan was.