One sheet scores, two sheets a goal

City Council approves first phase of ice arena renovation

May 31st, 2017

The White Bear Lake Area Hockey Association got its wish. The city is stepping up to go halves with the skating community in a $4 million project to renovate the aging Sports Center.

Phase One of a three-phase plan includes preliminary design work that will cost $69,380. The contract was awarded to Kraus-Anderson/JLG Architects, one of four engineering firms that submitted bids for the project.

Renovations include a new refrigeration system and upgrades to the building, which was converted into an ice arena in 1989.

There has been discussion of a larger project that would add a second ice sheet, but that is not part of the current project. Accommodations for a second sheet will be part of the design, however.

The hockey association pledged to pay 50 percent of the project to a maximum of $2 million. To demonstrate its commitment, association President Kevin McFarlane presented a check for $34,690 to the City Council at its May 23 meeting.

McFarlane told the council the association has discussed financing options with its bank.

“If we raise zero dollars, we can still service debt on a $2 million loan with gambling proceeds,” he said. “That is the worst-case scenario. I'm sure we'll be able to raise the money.”

The hockey representative added he'd like to see the project go the next step to a second sheet of ice. There is also talk about throwing curling into the mix.

The skating school is also teaming up to raise money. Its representative, Lisa Beecroft, addressed the council, noting a group called Friends of WB Sports Center held its first meeting the week prior with plans to start a fundraising campaign.

City Engineer Mark Burch pointed out the skating community will be part of the decision-making process every step of the way.

The proposal was split into three phases with a cost for each phase. That way, the city and the skating community can review each stage of the project without committing to progressive phases if a decision is made to stop.

The award to Kraus-Anderson/JLG Architects includes a total contract amount of $444,880 for design and construction management services. It was the lowest bid. The contract, Burch explained, will be structured so the cost for Phase I, preliminary design and 60 percent plan preparation, is $69,380; cost for Phase II, final plan and specification preparation and a bidding process, is $80,700 and cost for Phase III, construction management services, is $294,800.

The White Bear Lake Sports Center Renovation Project is scheduled to begin construction April 1, 2018 to make the fall skating schedule.

Burch admitted the timeline is tight, but the goal is to have the ice ready by September 2018. Preliminary design should be complete by July 23, just prior to the July 25 council meeting. At that time, Kraus-Anderson will present the preliminary plans for council to consider before proceeding to the next phase, which includes advertisement for bids. Award of a construction contract would occur at the Dec. 12, 2017 City Council meeting.

The hockey association is willing to provide a letter of credit if one is requested as a contractual obligation. According to Burch, the association's bank has indicated willingness to provide a letter of credit based on its historical receipt of gambling proceeds.

The city's portion of the project cost will come from restructuring of an internal loan originally set up for the area YMCA project, noted Finance Director Don Rambow. “No new tax revenue will be used to fund the project,” he stressed. “This will not impact a future tax levy.” If extra funds are needed, the city will use revenue from marina slip rentals.

Source: White Bear Press

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