Rink decision slated tomorrow

Fort Frances residents should find out at a special meeting tomorrow night how town council plans to proceed on the $5.5-million design/build ice facility.
While discussion will start in-camera at 6:30 p.m., council will open the doors to vote on the issue.
Mayor Glenn Witherspoon said the committee of the whole looked at four options during Monday’s in-camera meeting:
ostay with Windfield Construction Ltd.;
ogo to the next bid (it’s $300,000 higher);
ore-tender the project; or
obuy the architect’s completed drawings and advertise on a regular tender on that.
“These are just the options that came from our consultant,” Mayor Witherspoon noted Monday. “Some of the councillors may have their own ideas.”
The mayor said Windfield guaranteed in writing the price at $4.91 million plus GST.
“They would like us to go to a construction-type management where the [sub-contractors] would carry all the bonds,” he noted.
Discussion arose after the town discovered last month that Windfield couldn’t get a performance bond for the project. Mayor Witherspoon stressed that was why the town had to keep things behind closed doors.
“We’re dealing with a contract, that’s why,” he noted. “But one side of the contract has not been lived up to, as it was written.”
Windfield refused to comment on the matter when contacted yesterday.
Meanwhile, “Ice For Kids” supporter Christine Brown, who attended Monday’s meeting, doesn’t agree with what the town plans to build–and planned to put her concerns in a letter to council.
Though they weren’t Fort Frances taxpayers (they were until last year), Brown and her husband, David, contributed to the “Ice for Kids” fundraising efforts.
“It’s not what we pledged money for,” she said. “We don’t understand why they’re doing this.”
Originally, she said, people pledging money were told the town was going to build two side-by-side, North American-sized rinks. Instead, the latest design is for an “L-shaped” arena that includes a more expensive Olympic-sized surface.
“There’s no reason why we have to have this big rink,” she argued, stressing what they wanted was just a second indoor ice surface here.
She noted younger children, like her seven-year-old son, would have a difficult time playing a game on the larger surface.
While he doesn’t know what the outcome will be, Mayor Witherspoon admitted there was concern about public sentiment on the project.
“What the citizens of Fort Frances will get is the very best project that they can be proud of,” he assured, noting he hoped it would be something that would last some 50-60 years.
“I want us to build a nice project that we can be proud of, that we’re not going to break the bank doing,” he added.


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