City Hall prefers pairs division as ice arena talks continue
It seems Park City’s elected officials are most interested in the pairs division as they talk about an expansion of the Park City Ice Arena.
With young figure skaters in the audience, Mayor Jack Thomas and the Park City Council on Thursday night discussed the idea of expanding the ice arena with another sheet of ice. The elected officials talked about a list of topics related to another ice sheet as several of them indicated they wanted a partnership between City Hall and the Snyderville Basin Special Recreation District as the discussions continue.
A partnership has seemed likely, but details have not been crafted. A City Hall report issued in anticipation of the meeting on Thursday indicated the Recreation District intends to commit $1,250,000 to an expansion of the ice arena if voters in the Basin in November approve a $25 million ballot measure for recreation improvements.
The price tag attached to an expansion is not set. The report lists a few options involving different sorts of expansions. The estimated prices reach to more than $15 million if an expansion would be ambitious enough to also serve as an event center. The report says an expansion similar to the current Park City Ice Arena could cost upward of $6 million.
Some of the City Councilors inquired about a partnership. City Councilor Cindy Matsumoto said the commitment by the Recreation District does not appear large enough, particularly, she said, since people who live in the Basin regularly use the current facility.
City Councilors Dick Peek and Andy Beerman agreed that the split in costs between City Hall and the Recreation District needs to be equitable. Peek said the contribution by the Recreation District should "be more significant."
The Recreation District and City Hall partnered on the funding of the construction of the facility. The Recreation District also contributes to the ice arena’s capital account.
Park City officials say the ice arena’s popularity warrants an expansion with another rink. The schedule at the ice arena is jammed with leagues and events. The general manager of the ice arena, Jon Pistey, said in an interview early in the week schedulers were unable to accommodate 417-plus hours of requested ice rentals between the middle of 2013 and the middle of 2014. The rental requests included time for corporate events or family reunions. He also said early in the week another 600 or so hours were not available for programs for young hockey players and young figure skaters.
The City Council chambers were filled with youngsters and their parents in support of an expansion. Some of them brought signs. One of the signs, adorned with pictures of figure skaters and skates, read "Give PC Skaters A Chance!" and "Help Us Achieve Our Goals." A few of the youngsters wore ice-skating outfits to the meeting. The elected officials received comments about sports like figure skating, hockey and curling.
Tiffany McNeil, a figure-skating coach, told the mayor and City Council there is not enough available time for the skaters, saying some want to compete in a Winter Olympics someday.
"They need the ice so bad," McNeil said.
Aaron Dufford, the Park City High School hockey coach, said youth hockey programs cannot grow based on an inability to secure more ice time. He said he would like the expansion completed in two years.
"We have immediate need right now," Dufford said.
The elected officials and City Hall staffers, meanwhile, touched on topics like the location of an expansion on the grounds around the ice arena. Various designs would extend into nearby field space, or parking areas, or would require a road to be rerouted, the mayor and City Council were told. The mayor said the planning efforts would need to involve detailed analyses of the sites.
Two people indicated in interviews they are considering mounting campaigns for the Park City Council, a signal the City Hall election could attract an intriguing slate of candidates in a year when the majority of the five seats are on the ballot.