Janesville28.3°

Ice arena talk heats up

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MARCIA A. NELESEN
October 23, 2009
— A south side industrial park is the best place to build a new ice rink, Janesville City Manager Eric Levitt has suggested.

The city council at its Monday meeting will consider partnering with a private group to build a rink.


Levitt wrote in a memo that the council could consider giving up to $2 million to the Janesville Youth Hockey Club for a new rink if the group can get commitments for an additional $1.5 million by Dec. 1.


The meeting begins at 7 p.m. in City Hall, 18 N. Jackson St. A public hearing is not scheduled, but residents can sign in and speak at the beginning of the meeting.


Levitt recommends a site in a south side industrial park as the best option, along with two other possibilities. Twelve sites had been identified, but many would require additional costs. Disadvantages include small lots and the need to buy private property, unsuitable topography or environmental concerns, for instance.


The three sites recommended by the city are:


No. 1: The preferred location in a south side industrial park on Venture Drive west of Beloit Avenue. The city-owned property is in TIF No. 22 and located north of the John Deere warehouse.

The city prefers that the arena move because the city is looking for a site for a new central fire station. The current ice arena location at 821 Beloit Ave. would fit that bill, and the city owns the land. At a recent meeting, council member George Brunner said buying land for a new fire station could cost as much as $1 million.


In addition, the city might be able to rent the new facility to the Beloit Youth Hockey Association in the off-season because of its proximity to Beloit.


Those living and working on the city's south side have frequently complained at public meetings that the city focuses its energy on the east side rather than encouraging commercial development elsewhere.


No. 2: A location in an east side industrial park south of the Youth Sports Complex. The site is owned by the city and is about 11 acres.
No. 3: The existing location. The building could be expanded over what is now the parking lot to house a second sheet of ice. New parking could be added on the south side of the building.

The ice rink is 35 years old. The city estimates it must spend about $1.5 million on such major items as a new roof and cooling system. The rink shut down for two months this summer because of problems with the ice cooling system.


The Janesville Youth Hockey Club earlier this year proposed that it would be smarter to build a new rink rather than throw money at the old. The group suggested the site at the Youth Sports Complex because the city already owns that land.


Others in the city, such as a west side business group, urged the city to look elsewhere rather than concentrating everything on the east side.


In the club's proposal, a new ice rink would cost about $5 million and have two sheets of ice.


The city would be asked to commit an initial $2 million and an additional $500,000 when the second sheet is added.


The council has included $1.15 million in its yearly borrowing note issue to either repair the existing arena or help pay for a new facility. The council will consider the borrowing at Monday's meeting. About $648,000 has previously been borrowed for a new aquatics facility and could be used for the ice arena, as well, according to city memos.


Other ice arena locations mentioned in the memo include:


-- The open space south of Jackson Elementary School and west of Beloit Avenue owned by the city. The proposed site is north of the berm. The berm was built to provide a buffer between the industrial park and the residential neighborhood.


-- Rockport Park.


-- An area south of the Rock River and east of South Jackson Street adjoining Dawson Field. Other privately–held properties would have to be purchased to increase the size of the lot.


-- A site on Palmer Drive adjoining Interstate 90/39. The undeveloped area of Palmer Park is a pet exercise area.



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