Free-Range Kids

City Makes Family Destroy Homemade Hockey Rink, Because Fun Is Hazardous

The kids will just stay inside playing XBox all day instead.


ABC 27

Because kids should be inside with their videogames, not outside on skates, South Middleton Township, Pennsylvania, has told a family it must tear down its backyard skating rink.

Of course, the rationale given is safety, not, Get those kids back inside where there's plenty of screens, sofas, and junk food. The Beam family was told that their temporary rink—same as the one they built last year with zero complaints—is a drainage violation.

Fox News reports that the Beams received a letter stating:

"A drainage easement is located on your property," the letter noted. "By placing objects and fences that block the water, such as the skating rink constructed on your property, the amount of storage available is reduced, and the basin will not function as designed."

And yet the family has lived at that location for 14 years, and only two or three times—always in the summer—has any "substantial water" accumulated, the dad, Terry Beam, told the authorities.

Tough turtlenecks, pops. The authorities want the rink down, and his appeal did not melt their hearts.

Nor did this little interview on ABC 27, where one of the Beam boys, Aron, admitted that he loves playing hockey, but without the rink he'll just play on XBox all day.

His dad added that when the boys are inside, they are always "driving us crazy, fighting with each other."

But fighting with each other outside is… hockey.

So here's to another couple of kids sitting on the couch, swilling hot chocolate. The outdoors, after all, is no place for children.

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  1. Canada immediately sent the Princess Pats to occupy central Pennsylvania.

    1. Yay Go Pats! Closed the season 1st in the WHL

          1. The Taliban in question, when contacted for comment, described the encounters as “fucking wallhack bullshit” and their foes as “nagger faggot cucks” just before they unplugged their modems and ragequit.

            1. kekekekekekekekekekekekeke

  2. So…can’t go to the park to play without being picked up by the cops and having the parents charged with endangerment, can’t play a sport in the backyard because FYTW. But kids are all lazy these days and just stay inside.

  3. The government should be required to prove that THAT hockey rink in THAT location is in fact a drainage issue. and they should be required to prove it in every case every time.

    1. doesn’t FYTW constitute proof?

        1. Can’t fight City Hall.

    2. You seem to think people have property rights and that the burden of proof should be on the government to justify their telling people what they can and can’t do with their property. How quaint. /sarc

    3. While everything is frozen .

  4. City Makes Family Destroy Homemade Hockey Rink, Because Fun Is Hazardous
    The kids will just stay inside playing XBox all day instead.

    And then they’ll turn around and piss and moan about the childhood obesity “epidemic” without an ounce of self awareness.

    1. And then they’ll turn around and piss and moan about the childhood obesity and teen sexting “epidemics” without an ounce of self awareness.

      This assumes that they had a general sense of self-awareness going into the turn.

  5. Another government functionary justifying their existence.

  6. Lenore, you almost always can call out good examples of over-protective thumb-suckers. This is not one of those. This is zoning, pure and simply. This is generally because some neighbor doesn’t like what some other neighbor is doing, so they find a way to sic the local building inspector on them. In an ice rink case, it’s generally a noise complaint.

    Of course, the reverse can be true. Some rich asshole in my town built a rink, complete with night lighting, in clear violation of the zoning ordinances. When challenged, the building inspector gave him a pass (helps to be friends with the local building inspector). So now the rich asshole is having the zoning laws changed to suit his preferences.

    Personally, I think P&Z sucks. Tort suits or bust. In the meantime, it exists. And that’s almost certainly what’s in play. Not some nanny state anti-hockey movement.

    1. It might not be motivated by hockey animus, but zoning is pretty clearly (to me, anyway) an extrusion of nanny-statism.

      1. This isn’t over-protective thumb-sucking! This is zoning!

    2. I came here to say the same. This isn’t a free-range-kids-story.

    3. So EVERY Skenazy-penned story has to be about free range kids? Let her diversify, FFS.

  7. I once saw a documentary on back yard wrestling where the promoters put up temporary fencing using bed sheets to block the view from the street, thereby preventing local police from having an excuse (or a mandate) to interfere.

    Perhaps this family should try this next winter. Maybe get a couple of neighbors to try this also. If the busy bodies can’t see the infraction, they can’t act on it.

  8. It’s almost YouTube clickbait.

    Watch hockey rink get DESTROYED by family!

    “Like, in a debate or something?”


    1. You’ll never believe what happens next.

      1. The ice melts?

  9. This is why Pennsylvania will never produce the next Sidney Crosby.

    1. Which will come first?

      1) Pennsylvania producing the next Sidney Crosby.

      2) A Canadian Team winning the Stanley Cup.

  10. “And yet the family has lived at that location for 14 years, and only two or three times?always in the summer?has any “substantial water” accumulated, the dad, Terry Beam, told the authorities.”

    There are a number of problems with this. For one, flood plains and floodways are calculated based on 50 and 100 year storm events. If the flood is going to happen once in 50 years, then it having not happened for the last 14 is beside the point.

    Another question is whether the rink is in a floodway. Floodways are different from flood plains because anything built in a flood way actually changes the course of the flood. On the flood map, everyone knows where the flood is going to be, and builds and pays for flood insurance accordingly. If you change the course of the flood by building in the floodway, that means people who purposely built outside the flood plain may find themselves in it during the flood because of what you built.

    Here’s another question–was the easement on their property before they bought it 14 years ago? If they built this in a flood plain or flood way easement on their property that was there before they bought it, then I have no sympathy.

    1. Excellent point. If the zoning changed after they bought the property, they should have a “takings” claim. But, of course, it is unlikely the courts will see it their way. Locally, the state law changed the “riparian buffer” from 50′ to 75′ making a lot of acreage unbuildable because of the new setback. I am aware of one owner who lost an entire building lot because of this change, but that was tough titties for him according to the town’s solicitor.

    2. You’re misreading the zoning laws Ken. This isn’t flooding, it’s drainage. I can’t put a roof over the entirety of my property, terminate the gutters 5 ft. shy of your basement window on my side of the property line, and then shrug my shoulders every time we get > 0.5″ of rain and your basement floods. Also, re:easements; the fact that we’re even talking about drainage is because the rink is already a) temporary and b) within the property owner’s property(+easements). Also, as MP points out above, this isn’t about zoning as much as it is about neighbors who don’t like each other and are trying to bludgeon each other with zoning laws.

      1. Personally, I’m wondering how temporary is “temporary”. That rink looks like a pretty substantial structure that probably isn’t too easy to take down or put up. Maybe the family is waiting too long to take it down and pissing off the neighbors. Maybe it’s getting filled with rainwater and causing mosquitos to breed. Maybe it’s an eyesore in the spring.

  11. I should add that the people around them not only get their flood insurance rate based on whether they’re in a flood plain, all the home financing in that area is based on the validity of the flood map. If the banks in the area can’t rely on the floodmap because the easements aren’t being properly enforced. Why would a bank give anyone in the area a 30 year home loan if they can’t tell whether you’re in a flood zone with a one in 50 chance–every year for 30 years–that the home will be destroyed in a flood?

    If this family wants to hire a hydrologist to see how and whether they can update FEMA’s flood map, they should be perfectly free to do so.

  12. “No outside sports for you. Sit on the couch and do something mind-numbing. We are here to protect you. Do not think another thought. Only do what is right.” — Your Benevolent Government


  13. Once the water melts and needs draining, there’s no need for an ice rink so it will come down anyway.

  14. Are they still allowed to play hockey in the street?

  15. Hmm. As an avid backyard hockey player and as a parent, I am strongly predisposed to share in this outrage. But…dang it!

    This story is about an easement, which is a property right. The unfortunate situation here appears to have nothing to do with any buttercups worrying about kids getting hurt or etc. Nor does it particularly relate to zoning. It’s about a specific permanent property right which the current title holders of that back yard are violating. It’s no different from building a barn directly underneath a power line that crosses the farm that you just bought: the power company is going to show up, show you their permanent easement for that strip of your land, and give you 15 days to get your barn the f**k out of there.

    Whether this particular floodway easement is a smart one or a stupid one is impossible to judge from this distance. I happen to have plenty of professional experience with easements for various purposes and the odds of this particular type being wrongheaded are not trivial, but also not high.

    I’m also curious about whether the easement existed when the current family bought the property. In that case if they didn’t know about it they have a beef with whoever did their title search, and if they did know about it then sympathy about the rink vanishes. And of course if it turns out that this family granted or sold that easement themselves then, again, tough cookies about the rink: you shouldn’t have built it there in the first place.

    1. If the trial court finds no intentional violation of the ordinance, it must proceed to balance the equities, including the cost of removing the grain bin and the impact that removal of the grain bin would have on the value of the subject property against the harm that the public would suffer if the grain bin remains in its present location. The interest of and harm to nonparties such as John and Susan, as owners of the subject property, are among the equities to be balanced. (this seems to be a setback case)

      Just because there exists an easement does not mean that the ice rink is an intentional violation or a violation at all used only during the winter months. It is still possible that the buttercups need to balance the harm caused to the public before it can obtain an injunction. That’s my best guess.

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