Saugerties board approves $1.3 million for ice arena renovations

Kiwanis Ice Arena

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.”

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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.”

There are 14 comments

  1. Just Saying

    Offering my opinion!

    If the roof needs replacement that’s one thing, I’m all for it, however, according to the article councilman Andreassen sent a proposal to all (5) board members with drawings etc. for a more permanent type structure. He said only councilman MacIsaac responded! Andreassen further said he didn’t even have a change to see what the contract even was. I find it very odd that LeAnne Thornton, John Schoonmaker and Fred Costello did not even have the courtesy to respond to fellow board member Andreassen proposal? I know its election year and Costello and Thornton are running for re-election, but they should have at least welcomed councilman Andreassen’s input and had a board discussion on the subject matter. I truly believe Councilman Andreassen is in favor of replacing the roof, but I applaud him for trying to be an informed voter first. Im just shocked by the lack of action and disrespect Thornton, Schoonmaker and Costello demonstrated towards a fellow board member by turning a deaf ear on another board members input!! Just saying

  2. Jp

    Something tells me my taxes are going up again next year. Not anti hockey, but it does seem that lots of money is allocated to Cantine field. What Chorvas wants, Chorvas gets! I dont understand why the rink is not self sufficient. If it’s not self sufficient, with money put aside for repairs, than taxpayers should not have to support it. I am definitely voting in new blood come November. The well is dry….

  3. Stanley Hess

    It’s amazing that Board Member Andreassen seems to never have an opinion on anything. He always needs more information. What a
    coincidence that everyone not running for
    supervisor has enough information to register a vote. I’m sure he was elected because people wanted his votes on issues. Can’t wait for him to not have opinions as supervisor.

  4. Save the Rink

    If Andreassen got his way, we would continue to kick this can down the road until the roof eventually collapsed. He and the rest of the board have had plenty of time to review and solicit proposals.

    I reached out to Andreassen through someone who knows him to gauge his thoughts on the rink and got back a highly defensive rant about how people are out to get him and about how much it would cost. Not knowing much about him, I found it very off-putting.

    The rink and Cantine as a whole are a benefit to the community. Some things are more important than money. Beware those who can’t see the forest because of the trees.

  5. ak

    That’s a lot of money to satisfy a hundred or so for a few months If Costello ran their restaurant like he runs the town I don’t think they would be in business for to long . Election years are great time for rash decisions to win over voters. The rink is only a benefit for a small percent of the community beware of those who like to stick their hands in others pockets .

    1. Save the Rink

      The rink benefits the community in multiple ways including tournaments that bring people to Saugerties from other areas. These people stay at local hotels, eat at local restaurants and shop locally. It gives people a reason to come here and spend money. It provides youth programs which provide healthy alternatives to sitting in front of the television or internet. It hosts various events during the summer when the ice is out. Perhaps we should focus on maximizing the benefits of the space rather than focusing only on costs. Beware of those who care only about money and are blind to all else.

  6. Just saying

    offering a second opinion…

    I was curious to see who on the town board abstained from voting over the last several years. So I went back and reviewed all the Town board minutes and found the following board members abstained from voting from time to time… Fred Costello; Leanne Thornton; Janes Bruno; and Kelly Myers. I don’t recall reading any letters criticizing any of them for abstaining? Why just Paul now? Just saying ..

  7. just saying

    Not true Stanley… go back and look at the minutes like I did… do your homework.. just saying

  8. SD

    In the 8th paragraph of the article Andreassen states why he didn’t feel comfortable voting on this issue. Basically not enough information, when the price tag jumps half way through the project, then what?

  9. just saying

    Not true Stanley H…… Councilman Andreassen has abstained before he ever announced as did most of the other board members including Mr Costello… go look up the town board minutes like I did, and you will see all the board members who abstained from voting over time… Just saying..

  10. Jp

    Who cares if people come and stay here, and eat in the restaurants, because of the hockey rink. I really don’t think it’s that many people..Who cares if people come and stay here, and eat in the restaurants, because of the hockey rink. I really don’t think it’s that many people. Also, what does that have to do with the rest of the community putting up 1.3 million dollars. What is the actual percentage of Saugerties residents that use the rink. I’ll bet not much! Also, why is it not self sufficient and why aren’t funds put aside for repairs? It sounds like a taxpayer drain to me!

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