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Paynesville Press - April 14, 2004

Township, Hockey Association to add summer ice at arena

by Michael Jacobson

The Paynesville Township Board of Supervisors took the following action at a special meeting on Monday, April 5.

•The board approved assisting the Paynesville-New London-Spicer Hockey Association in making improvements to the Koronis Civic Arena, including accepting a quote for adding insulation and advertising bids for additional ice-making equipment.

The PNLS Hockey Association has been working to improve the insulation in the arena and add ice-making capacity in order to be able to make summer ice. Currently, many hockey players take part in camps, clinics, and leagues in either Benson or St. Cloud, and the local hockey association, which works in partnership with the township in the operation of the Koronis Civic Arena, wants to improve the arena in order to make ice for a month or so to offer local camps and clinics. They could even attract more out-of-town skaters to the arena, hockey association president Otto Naujokas told the township board last week.

In January, the township board gave the hockey association permission to make improvements in insulating the roof of the arena. The arena, built in 1992, originally relied on cold weather to make ice - ice-making equipment was not added until 1997 - so the roof still has little insulation. Along with this, the hockey association planned to purchase additional ice-making equipment to improve the capacity and be able to make ice outside of their normal October to March operating window.

The hockey association's planned improvements ran into trouble when they needed more ice-making equipment than they thought and when that equipment cost more than they expected. The total project - insulation and ice-making equipment - is now expected to cost $150,000, and the hockey association has $50,000 on hand for the project. (The association is doing well financially, association board member Troy Caldwell told the township supervisors last week, with more than two year's operating budget in reserve.)

The hockey association tried to finance the improvements to the arena through a loan, and at one time it was thought that the township, as sole owners of the arena, would just need to co-sign that loan. But the hockey association was not able to get a loan because they have donated all their work and improvements at the arena to the township and therefore did not have any collateral, since the arena is owned by the township.

As a solution, the township board agreed to make these improvements, accepting a quote of $23,500 for insulation, including labor, from the hockey association, which plans to buy the material locally but as a nonprofit organization does not have to pay sales tax.

The township board also agreed to advertise for bids for the additional ice-making equipment, which should cost more than $100,000. These bids will be opened at another special township meeting on Monday, April 19, at 8 p.m. The special meeting last week was necessary since the hockey association needs to have the improvements done by mid-May, so the township needed to advertise for bids immediately.

In effect, the township will be financing the project for the hockey association. While the hockey association has that $50,000 on hand for the project, another $100,000 will need to be financed by the township. While the township will pay for the improvements to the arena, the township will be reimbursed through its lease with the hockey association.

While changes to the lease still need to be finalized, the premise of the agreement is that the township will pay for the improvements, up to $100,000, and the hockey association will repay that amount, with interest, over five years.

The risk of the deal, said township board chairman Don Pietsch, is additional money committed to the arena and the hockey association. But the township already is in partnership with the hockey association and is committed to running the arena for its Mighty Ducks grant (which paid for some of the improvements in 1997). If the hockey association folded, the township would already be liable for the arena, said Pietsch, so the township should try to make the hockey association as strong as possible.

Supervisor Pat Meagher agreed, saying that it was an easy choice for him when the options were to hang the hockey association or help them improve the arena at no cost to the township.

The Koronis Civic Arena is now insured at a value of $1.5 million.

The hockey association this year, once again, reported its largest participation numbers.

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