BEHIND THE HEADLINES

Why is cold cash needed for the ice rink?

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Q. Why does the ice arena need improvements?

A. "Finish The Rink" is Phase III of a project that was started about 12 years ago. In 1991, a used ice mat system with an anticipated life of 10 years was purchased to support outdoor skating and hockey.

Around 1993, additional modular units were installed to act as temporary locker rooms for the growing programs.

In 1996, a permanent roof and structure were built around the ice surface and temporary aluminum bleachers were erected.

Due to these investments by the city, participation in figure skating, recreational skating, and hockey have exploded during this 12-year period. However, at the same time, all of the temporary assets have reached or exceeded their expected useful lives.

"Finish the Rink" is designed to complete this popular local recreational amenity and in the case of the ice system, replace failing assets with permanent, modern, and cost-effective equipment and systems.

Q. How will the private sector help in financing these improvements? What is the city's role in paying for it?

A. We are very lucky to live in a town where local citizens and businesses are willing to donate time, expertise, and money to support public causes in which they believe.

In this case, a group of local business people have guaranteed to donate $500,000 in cash ($100,000 per year for the next five years), another group has agreed to donate architectural, mechanical, structural, and electrical design services, and TIC has committed to be involved in the process as well.

At present, these donations in cash and services have a value of more than $700,000.

Based on current estimates, the complete project is expected to cost about $3 million with the ice system requiring approximately one-third of these funds.

It is currently intended to utilize a sale-leaseback funding mechanism similar to that used for the "Roof the Rink" project in 1996.

Q. If the ice rink is so heavily used and supported in the community, why not put the funding of the rink to a vote of the people?

A. In the past year, over 1,200 men, women, and children have participated in skating programs at Howelsen Ice Arena and that figure does not include the waiting lists for many of these programs.

Unfortunately, the existing ice system, as originally anticipated, has reached the end of its useful life and it is feared that a permanent system failure will occur that will shut the arena for the better part of a season while a new system is purchased and installed.

Since a vote in November could mean a 15-month or longer delay in addressing the ice-making issue, local residents and businesses have stepped forward with donations so that "Finish the Rink" can be completed in the most reliable, cost-effective, and timely manner possible for the city and its citizens.

As a direct result of the donations from local residents and the proposed financing plan, the finished rink will, over the next five years, utilize $500,000 less from the city's general fund than is currently budgeted.

Q. What will staying open year-round do for the ice rink? Will it bring in a significant amount of revenue to the city?

The main objective of "Finish the Rink" is to replace temporary and/or failing equipment with modern, permanent equipment.

A side benefit of this process is that current state-of-the-art ice making systems use nearly two-thirds less power (a savings of $50,000 to $60,000 to the city) than our current system and are more tolerant of Steamboat's summer temperatures.

As a result, by solving the ice-making problem, it will now be economical to operate Howelsen Ice Arena throughout the year.

In addition to providing an alternative summer recreational option to Steamboat residents, it will now be possible to operate summer figure skating and hockey camps locally.

Rather than being forced to travel to camps located throughout the USA, local athletes and their families will now be able to remain in Steamboat throughout the summer and train locally.

Q. I understand the debt may not be paid off for 20 years. Will the ice rink need another overhaul before the city is finished paying off the debt on these improvements?

"Finish the Rink" is designed to be a permanent recreational facility with an expected useful life well in excess of 20 years. Other than normal maintenance for the equipment and facilities, no other capital expenditures are expected on this phase of the project during the life of the loan.

The city and Ice Rink Advisory Committee encourage all interested residents to visit the arena, review the conceptual plans for the finished rink, and provide their ideas for the completion of the Howelsen Ice Arena.

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