Kiwanis Arena in Saugerties reopens after $1.3 million in repairs

Skaters enjoy the newly refurbished arena. (Photos by Phyllis McCabe)

The long-awaited replacement of the Kiwanis Ice Arena’s deteriorating walls and roof were completed behind schedule — but under budget, according to Saugerties town Parks and Recreation Supervisor Greg Chorvas.

Chorvas attributed the lower-than-anticipated cost to private donations paid toward the project; $58,000 worth of work taken on by ice arena employees that drove down Legacy Building Solution’s initial quote; equipment for the job sourced from the municipality rather than rented; and the accumulation of $500 late fees accrued over each of the 30 days that the project ran late. The whole project was priced at $1.3 million when it was approved by the Saugerties town board in June, $400,000 of which came through the State Dormitory Authority, $500,000 of which was taken from the town’s fund balance and the remainder, according to the wording of the town board’s resolution okaying the project, additional state money and facility fees from the new arena and other town ventures. Should these funding sources fall through or come up short, taxpayers will have to make up the difference.

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The project began after a 2014 Legacy Building Solutions study 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 Chorvas, began “pixellating,” or ripping like a cracked windshield, in 2014. After some discussion, the board moved ahead with a plan to replace the roof and walls.

In June, officials anticipated that construction would finish in September, in time to accommodate this year’s hockey and skating seasons. But the process of removing the fabric roof didn’t begin until Oct. 9. Beforehand, town employees removed all of the existing speakers, wires, sprinkler systems, and lights as well as the existing aluminum insulation in preparation for the removal of the fabric.

The rink has been open to skaters since Dec. 14, and was brought up to code in time for a Junior Rangers “Try Hockey Free Day” on Dec. 7. Chorvas had said that the town “might have a riot on [their] hands” if they weren’t able to complete the project before early December, due to both the event and the schedules of town hockey, figure skating and ice dancing groups.

“It’s like comparing a grape to a pumpkin,” said Chorvas of the new structure in comparison to the old arena, which was built in 1999. “The old structure was a polyethylene-type of material. This building here, this hybrid building, [the] walls 16 feet in height are steel trusses with exterior and interior metal cladding very similar to what you would see at a large supermarket — a Macy’s, a Sears, a commercial building. The end walls are 100 percent steel.”

Unlike the previous structure, the new building is entirely insulated, which has opened up the possibility of a longer skating season. Chorvas said this would translate to “more cost savings, more energy savings, more reduction in greenhouse gas emissions and atmospheric warming conditions.”

“I love the new rink and think both the contractors and our staff did an amazing job to make it the building it is, although it’s slightly discouraging that a project that had been in the planning stage since the 2018 season took so long to complete. I guess with all big projects you’re bound to encounter unexpected delays but at least it’s finally complete,” said Peter Stark, the ice arena’s assistant manager.

“Once the odds and ends such as the remaining banners, bleacher heat, and dehumidifier are put up I think the building will look even better,” Stark said. “Until then, we just need to focus on making our ice match our facility and make it one of the best arenas around.”

Stark said the biggest upside to the new, better-insulated structure was the potential to extend the skating season.

“I’ve been asked numerous times throughout the project if the new roof means we will be an all-year facility,” he said. “We are ‘testing the waters’ by staying open until May 10 this year, to see how the ice holds up with warmer outside temperatures. The idea is that if the ice remains ideal, despite warm weather, we could essentially stay open longer, or all year, if enough demand is there.”

But this season, at least, must end in May — the town building inspector has only issued a temporary certificate of occupancy for the building because fire sprinklers have yet to be installed over the parts of the building over the ice. Chorvas said that building standards did not require sprinklers over ice when the structure was initially built.

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