Ice Valley to return

The Kankakee Valley Park District Board is ending its contract that oversees the management of Ice Valley Centre Ice Arena and Splash Valley Aquatic Park.

After just a little more than five months into a yearly contract with Rink Management Services Corp. to run both Splash Valley Aquatic Center and Ice Valley Centre Ice Arena for the Kankakee Valley Park District, the deal has been terminated.

The KVPD Board of Commissioners voted unanimously to terminate the contract with RMSC, effective Sept. 15.

“It does not appear, after six months that we’ve been together, that it is a good fit for them or us,” said Dayna Heitz, KVPD executive director.

Heitz said she has asked board attorney David Freeman to work with RMSC’s owner Tom Hillgrove and his attorney to sever ties. Initially, RMSC left the option open for the park district to opt out of the agreement.

Freeman said the district received a letter from RMSC’s attorney that they agreed in general that it was in the best interest to terminate the agreement. RMSC has incurred higher insurance cost due to COVID.

“It looks as though this can move forward to an amicable resolution rather than a fight,” Freeman said.

Hillgrove said his company has done a good job of running Splash Valley, but COVID threw the whole insurance market off. Hillgrove also said the park district still owes RMSC $99,000 in payroll expenses.

“We really need to get those covered right away,” said Hillgrove, who was attending the meeting via Zoom. “There’s really no reason not to.”

Heitz said the district needs to look at all the financials, and that she will go over those with Freeman to determine how much is still owed to RMSC.

“If there’s anything owed, the district will honor that,” Heitz said.

Freeman said they’ve just started the process of terminating the contract, and they have to look at all the numbers.

Board member Bill Spriggs asked why would the district owe the management firm that much money.

“Tom says it’s $99,000,” Heitz said. “It may be, it may not. However, whatever is their payroll, there are bills that we have paid. I don’t know if our bills are included in their financials, or they aren’t. There’s a lot of moving parts to this. Basically, don’t be upset about the amount of money because we would have paid it anyway.”

Heitz will get with Freeman today to go over the financials and determine how much is owed to RMSC. Freeman told Hillgrove any money owed would be paid within 30 days of the contract termination date.

“We’re willing to walk away and have a professional transition, relieve all our contracts with our employees so everybody can go to work for you and we’ll do that,” Hillgrove said. “We’ll do it cheerfully, but we need to get paid. The park district was supposed to fund this. We shouldn’t be this far out, so all we’re asking is, ‘Live up to the agreement.’”

The park district will now take over running Ice Valley again, beginning this week. Heitz said there was some good that came out of the agreement with RMSC. She said the district couldn’t have reopened Splash Valley without its help.

Splash Valley closed Labor Day. All current employees at Ice Valley will remain in place.

Associate Editor

Chris Breach is the Associate Editor of The Daily Journal and the editor of the business section. A graduate of Indiana University, Breach has more than 25 years experience in newspapers. He can be reached at