Al Quaal Tube Slide closed for season

Families and friends gather near the tow rope after tubing down the hill towards Teal Lake during the free community tubbing event sponsored by Gauthier Insurance during the Fat-Ish Weekend the Al Quaal Recreation Area in Ishpeming on Saturday. Weekend events from included fatbike racing, fatbike demos, free tubing, music, food and coffee vendors. All Proceeds from both days event will benefit the grooming efforts of RAMBA, a non-profit trail organization. (Journal photo by Corey Kelly)


Journal Staff Writer

ISHPEMING — Ishpeming residents will have to find other winter activities this season instead of going down the Al Quaal Tube Slide. Due to staffing shortages, the Al Quaal Tube Slide hill will not open for another year this winter.

When the announcement was made on the city’s Facebook page, over 100 comments were made by the public expressing their disappointment in the hill not opening.

According to Ishpeming City Manager Craig Cugini when the city decided to seek qualified seasonal applicants to reopen the slide last season, they were met with a limited number of applicants. Cugini said in an email that the hill needs 10 seasonal staff and augmenting permanent staff to operate the hill safely.

“When we fell short of available applicants, the city reviewed salaries, fee schedules and operational expenses to determine if we could find a way to open. Unfortunately, the 2021/2022 season resulted in the city being unable to open (Al Quaal),” Cugini said.

Cugini said during the summer and fall the parks and recreation commission had several meetings that resulted in recommendations to the city council related to the same concerns — salary, fees and operation expenses.

“The city council discussed (and) deliberated over the recommendations and approved them,” Cugini said. “Again in 2022/2023, the city received a very limited number of applicants, which fell way short of the required number to operate safely.”

According to Cugini, the city posted an open announcement to find applicants since November in anticipation of the start of the season. Cugini said that city has a professional staff of which many are considered bargaining unit employees.

One of the definitions within the union’s contractual bargaining agreement identifies part-time seasonal employees as full-time college students.

“This may have proven to be a limiting factor on the number of applicants,” Cugini said. “Our parks and recreation commission, city council and city staff are analyzing this definition to determine if it could be changed and if the change would be significant enough to deliver an increase in qualified applicants necessary for operations.”

Cugini said that the city will continue to review the program to seek reasonable changes that will allow them to find staff while offering a safe place for patrons.

Alternative outdoor activities at Al Quaal include snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, sledding, access to Teal Lake for ice fishing and more.

“The city’s park and recreation board would be an excellent way to be involved in the recommendations regarding parks and recreation,” Cugini said. “If anyone wishes to apply for boards and commissions, the application can be obtained from city hall or on the city’s website and turned in the city clerk’s office.”

For more information or to have questions answered, contact Cugini via phone at 906-485-1091, ext. 203 or email at citymanager@ishpemingcity.org.

Dreyma Beronja can be reached at 906-228-2500 ext. 248. Their email address is dberonj@miningjournal.net.


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