Double-rink facility gets council nod

After six years of hard work, “Ice for Kids” organizers were rewarded with a standing ovation from about 45 supporters Monday night after town council pledged $5 million for a new double-rink ice facility here.
And it should be ready by next September.
First, though, the arena committee has to decide how to fill the 87,125 sq. ft. building. But “Ice for Kids” rep Les Baker was confident they wouldn’t have any problems coming up with a design.
“With that much square footage, I think everybody’s going to be happy,” he enthused yesterday, though admitting there were some timelines. “The company needs a three-month lead time to order the structural steel.
“Now that it’s a reality, a big weight has been lifted off our shoulders,” added Baker, who joined Al Smith and Dave Egan as “Ice for Kids” reps on the arena committee (Tammy DeAmicis was appointed to that committee Monday).
“‘Ice for Kids’ is ecstatic. It’s been a long time coming,” he added.
The $5.5-million project–with “Ice for Kids” kicking in the other half-a-million–includes GST ($148,000), consulting services for phase two ($32,000), furniture and equipment ($150,000), and a contingency fund (more than $500,000).
Councillors unanimously awarded the tender to Windfield Construction (MB) Ltd. for $4.91 million, who were both the lowest tender and the biggest building of the eight bids.
Council also received a report to finance its portion of the rink, with $2.4 million suggested to come from reserve funds and $4.4 million from a 20-year debenture, anticipated to be at 6.75 percent.
The estimated payment would be $407,000 annually.
But CAO Bill Naturkach, the new chair of the arena committee, stressed that financing could change, depending on what council wanted to do. And the town can’t go to market on the debenture until council approves the financing amount.
“The funding proposal answers the basic question–can we do this? And the answer is yes,” he explained yesterday. “Interest-wise, we’re going to be losing.”
One thing councillors stressed, though, was the cost to taxpayers wouldn’t come in any higher than the $5 million–and that it could even come in lower.
“Before we sign the contract, before we get into it, the contractor is going to know all the prices so there shouldn’t be any surprises,” noted Coun. Bill Martin.
“It won’t be like the auditorium.”
“Hopefully, when the smoke clears, we can have a project that comes in at less than the targeted amount,” added Coun. Deane Cunningham, noting the project had a “generous” contingency fund built in.
The town will retain its consultant for phase two of the design/build project.
“This is a very unique process,” Coun. Bruce Armstrong said. “And because it’s so unique, we had to hire someone who was able to analyze all eight proposals, compare apples to apples, so that we weren’t having one proposal come in with a poorer design.
“Financially, it’s probably in the ball park as to what we figured we’d have to spend for a double ice surface,” he assured, noting what was previously budgeted was for a single rink with a roof over it.
And he stressed they were satisfied everything was included–including demolition of Memorial Arena and construction of a new parking lot–and that they’d made the right recommendation.
Although they did look at remodelling Memorial Arena and building a second rink, Coun. Sharon Tibbs noted that was the highest bid on the project.
Meanwhile, Naturkach didn’t know if user fees would increase at the new facility, adding that was something reviewed annually.
“There will be more revenues [from two surfaces] but there will be more operating expenses,” he said, noting there was no cap on how much council could hike the fees.
“But I think there is a user tolerance level.”
He anticipated the town would be rolling the operating budgets for the Sportsplex and new ice facility into one for the 1999 budget process, which starts next July.
The project is slated to start March 15, and no later than April 15.