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Location no worry for committee

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“Ice For Kids” co-chair Les Baker said Monday he isn’t worried about people threatening to withdraw their pledges because the new ice facility didn’t go to a west-end location.

With more than $650,000 raised in pledges so far, “Ice For Kids” is $150,000 over the amount it was required to kick in for the new ice facility here.

“So we do have some cushion there," he said, stressing it was never brought up by "Ice for Kids” that it should go to any location other than the present site of Memorial Arena.

“That would be a huge disappointment if people were considering it,” echoed co-chair Dave Egan, noting he would be happy to explain to people why the new rinks would work best at the present site.

“It’s worked for [47] years there,” he noted.

In its report to council Monday, the steering committee—made up of “Ice For Kids” reps Egan, Baker, and Al Smith, as well as Community Services manager George Bell and Couns. Bruce Armstrong, Neil Kabel, and George Bell—noted advantages to the arena site far-outweighed the other two locations—along McIrvine Road and up at the curling club on Eighth Street:

oit’s centrally located;

othe historical tradition of use;

othe site is fully developed with utilities;

ooperating efficiencies can tie in with the Sportsplex;

oaccess to the site, traffic-wise, was more appropriate; and

oan increased customer service opportunity to having the facility next to the Sportsplex (sharing resources in terms of programing).

Coun. Armstrong added they also based their decision on the 1995 Johnston Sport Architect study—which involved a public meeting—that recommended the arena site for the second ice surface.

Although there was talk of soil testing at the three sites, CAO Bill Naturkach said that never materialized because the firms talked to said it wasn’t necessary yet.

Because the arena site is already zoned “recreational,” Naturkach noted public hearings on the proposed facility weren’t required.

“It’s the facility that’s changing, not the use,” Naturkach explained, adding there has been an opportunity for public input all along.

As of yesterday morning, it wasn’t known if zoning changes would have to be made at the former Causeway lot, which under the proposal will be turned into a parking lot.

One downfall, Naturkach admitted, would be the loss of the arena ball diamond. But recreation programmer Bob Swing noted they were looking at putting lights at the St. Francis diamonds, which would allow for night games.

“[So] there may not be any revenue loss. But that’s in the really formulative stages,” Swing said, adding they hadn’t yet approached the school boards with the idea.

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