By at 4-0 vote, with one abstention, the Saugerties Town Board voted on June 12 to replace the deteriorating roof and walls of the Kiwanis Ice Arena, for an estimated $1.3 million. Construction is expected to begin in a month and to be completed in September.
Councilman Paul Andreassen abstained from the vote.
After nearly a decade of contention over the rink’s fate, 50 parents and their ice-bound children, along with adult figure skaters and hockey players, urged town officials to vote in favor of a proposal that would allow the razing of the existing Kiwanis Ice Arena and the prompt construction of a new walls and a roof. The audience proponents said that, should officials deliberate any longer, their sports seasons would be cut short.
“We felt it was important for us to be here to ensure that everyone involved in the decision is aware of the impact of the decision on our youth athletes. Our families have made a decision to stick with us, even with the uncertainty around this project,” said Saugerties Youth Hockey Association president Mark Signore. “If this project is delayed or voted down, these families will be forced to find another organization — one lost season would completely destroy a program that so many would help to do.”
The hockey season in Saugerties runs from August until March, and according to speakers during the public comment section, losing time in August to practice for games and tournaments, like the Empire State Games in the case of young figure skaters, would be devastating. After a series of impassioned comments in support of the project, the group, a quarter of which appeared to be children under 13 or so, had to hang in there for supervisor’s comments and 15 other motions for about an hour before hearing the verdict on the rink.
After a bout of thunderous applause from relieved onlookers, Town Supervisor Fred Costello Jr. then read the entirety of the fourteen-section resolution.
Amidst a panel of affirmative votes, Andreassen, who was once the town’s building inspector and inspects buildings professionally, abstained from the vote.
“I didn’t have enough information and I didn’t have a chance to see what this contract even was,” said Andreassen of the decision. “It was a single bidder which was a little unsettling, and it would have been better to have several more to compare again. I had proposed and sent drawings for a more permanent type of structure, like a concept, and that was last year and no one but Mike MacIsaac responded. It would have cost more than the one proposed…but the ones that I submitted would have been year round. The town is settling for what we have and what we’re going to go forward with, and again, there are five members on the board, they have the ability to vote whichever way they want. I’m not anti ice arena, I’m not anti skating, I have family members who play hockey. I abstained, I didn’t vote no.”
Legacy Building Solutions Inc. of South Haven, Minnesota underbid local contractor Johns Mullen and Sons for the removal of the current structure and the erection of the new one.
In 2014, Legacy Building Solutions conducted a study on the building and warned that the 18-year-old structure had begun to deteriorate, and that there was “no permanent repair solution for the damage that is occurring, and the use of temporary adhesive products is the only way to mitigate the damage and help keep [precipitation] out of the building.” The polyethylene fabric panels making up the arena’s roof, according to Parks and Buildings Supervisor Greg Chorvas, began “pixellating,” or ripping like a cracked windshield, in 2014. Costello said that the new roof will be made of PVC mesh. The rapidity of the decay has accelerated since, and when Chorvas approached the board again in 2017 he was “worried that [it] wouldn’t make it through the season.” Since then, the ice arena staff has been using a special tape provided by the manufacturer to patch tears as they appear.
Of the 1.3 million dollar bill, $500,000 will be extricated from the town’s current fund balance. The other portion of the total will be financed via serial bonds that, according to the wording of the resolution, will be “repa[id]…from a combination of funds appropriated for the benefit of the town by the state legislature (or “State Funds”), and facility fees from the new arena and other town ventures. Should these funding sources fall through, the resolution specifies that the money will be procured via the taxpayer: “to the extent of shortfall from State Funds and Facility Fees, the levy of a tax upon all real property in the Town to pay the…interest on said bonds.” Costello said at the meeting at $400,000 of the cost would be covered by the state dormitory authority.
The warranty of the new structure is for 25 years, but according to Chorvas, “that doesn’t mean in 25 years it falls down.”
“I’m elated,” said Chorvas of the decision. “I’m very glad to see that the community support is there obviously that was shown this evening. The original building, which was all the town could afford, was a 285k investment which Senator Bonacic secured funding for and at the time that is all we could afford. It’s outlived its life expectancy by seven or eight years. And as a result, I think we got our bang for the buck. [Additionally, the new structure will create] fairly substantial reduction in energy consumption, cost and greenhouse gas emissions. For the skating community, it means we can go longer into the summer months.”