Janesville50.5°

Janesville ice arena again on agenda

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MARCIA A. NELESEN
August 20, 2010
— The Ice Skating Center Advisory Committee hopes projections it is compiling will show that Janesville could support two sheets of ice in a new ice arena.

The ice arena is back on the Janesville City Council agenda Monday, but any decision would be delayed if the council opts to wait to see the committee’s numbers.


City Manager Eric Levitt said Thursday that he would relay the group’s request for the council to delay its decision.


The council must decide whether to give public money to a private group raising funds to build a new ice arena.


The private fundraising group, affiliated with the Janesville Youth Hockey Club, and the Ice Skating Center Advisory Committee both support a facility with two sheets of ice.


A private consultant earlier said he doubts Janesville could support two sheets.


Levitt recommends that the city pledge money for one sheet because he fears the city subsidy would increase with two.


Levitt also recommends that the private group raise its share of the money for a new ice arena by the end of the year.


If the private group can’t raise it’s share by the end of the year, the city would need to move forward quickly to renovate the existing ice arena, which needs a new ice-making system.


The current arena needs about $1.2 million in renovations.


The council in October pledged $2 million to build an ice arena with one sheet of ice. Council members said the cost was justified because a new arena would save the city the $1 million in renovations and also $1 million needed to buy land for a new fire station. The fire station could be built on the site of the current ice arena on Beloit Avenue.


The council also pledged another $500,000 when funds are raised for a second sheet.


Total cost projected by the fundraising group is just over $5 million for two sheets.


“I think the committee is in agreement that they do support the need for a new facility and hopefully the need for a two-sheet facility,” said Steve Walker, head of the ice skating advisory committee.


Walker said his committee, which includes representatives of ice center user groups, dispute the consultant’s findings about the cost of a new arena and also the consultant’s estimate of future ice use.


The fundraising group has said a new arena could be built in the neighborhood of $5 million while the consultant’s estimate was $7 million.


Walker said the consultant probably used figures from past experiences on the East Coast. The fundraising group got its estimate talking to local contractors in the current economy.


In his most recent report, Levitt said he continues to support construction of a one-sheet ice rink that can be expanded to two if needed.


“I believe that a two-sheet ice rink should not be constructed until the city would be able to project an operating budget that would not have a subsidy,” he said.


The city’s expenses have increased at the ice arena from $230,000 in 2002 to $275,000 in 2008, he said.


Revenues decreased from $237,000 to $188,000, despite doubling open-skate revenues, he said. In 2009, the city increased revenues to about $220,000 and was able to shrink the subsidy.


“But these overall trends concern me when evaluating a two-sheet rink option,” Levitt said.


Based on current expenditures, Levitt said he anticipates expenses to increase to at least $325,000 with two sheets of ice, depending upon how the second sheet is operated. That means revenue would have to increase a minimum of $105,000 to break even, he said.


With the budget constraints, Levitt said he couldn’t recommend two sheets unless the operation of the second sheet costs the taxpayers nothing.


ON THE AGENDA

The Janesville City Council will meet at 7 p.m. Monday in City Hall, 18 N. Jackson St.


Items on the agenda include:


-- A discussion and possible action on building a new ice arena with two sheets of ice.


-- Discussion and action on a two-year lease with the Tallman House. City Manger Eric Levitt said the Tallman House has met the conditions of the council by preparing a business plan. The lease with the Rock County Historical Society would guarantee an operating subsidy of $45,000 and an additional $4,400 for grounds maintenance.


-- Discussion and possible action on a proposed advertising policy at the Youth Sports Complex. A resident earlier had contacted council members when she learned that her original donation advertising sign at the complex was replaced with a new advertising sign that did not mention her family’s contribution. Staff has since found the original letter sent to prospective donors. The letter asks for money and promises that the names will be prominently displayed on a permanent basis. The new suggested policy requires that the original donors be recognized at all times. But it also creates opportunities for groups to raise money with other advertising sponsors.


-- Action on waiving an event fee for Partners in Prevention Family Fun Fest in Riverside Park for a total of $553. If approved, the city manager recommends the council authorize him to reevaluate the fee system for 2011.


-- Action on a proposed resolution approving an agreement to hire a crossing guard at the intersection of East Rotamer Road and North Wright Road, with the cost being paid by the Milton School District.



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