Cold fills the pages of this edition of the RoundTable – the graceful ice dancing and figure skating and energetic hockey at Robert Crown, the bitter facts of the City’s next budget and the frozen ground that allows a beloved but ultimately dangerous tree to be removed.

At a time when winter wearies rather than invigorates us, snow has lost its charm, compressed into cold slag piles, and spring is only a gleam in the eye of the south-creeping sunrise, one can still be reminded of the virtues of cold: It tamps down some types of germs – who does not remember sickly “warm” winters? And there are the beauties of winter: ice skating and cross-country skiing, building snow forts and snowmen, the burst of a male cardinal in an evergreen or on a barren branch, the absolute quiet of new fallen snow, the spring flowers that could not bloom without a cold snap. (So it’s a short list.)

Circumlocuitously, then, one arrives at the vibrant but dilapidating Robert Crown Center. Despite their lack of upscale amenities, the Robert Crown ice rinks have provided year round opportunities for skaters young and old. And while some have glided on to national recognition, other young Claras, Sugar Plum Fairies, Drosselmeyers, racers and hockey players have skated into other fields of endeavor.

City officials continue to look for ways to replace it with a new, state-of-the art ice complex and community center. Slow – and slowed – as the process has been, it seems to have gained momentum in the last few months, with concrete ideas about how, when and where to look for financing and some articulation of the kinds of programs and services the new complex should offer. The Robert Crown subcommittee of the Playground and Recreation Board seems aware that the shortcomings of the facility tend to make it lose patrons – and thus the City, money.

The continued cold economy is no longer news here; it is a companion to everything considered, every thing expended, everything saved. So come to mind words from the poem “Fire and Ice,” by the late Robert Frost, slightly changed for the Robert Crown Center:

But if it must be delayed twice –

Its ice is nice

And will suffice.