East Grand Forks City Council members consider city funding for outdoor rink project
The outdoor rink comes as the Blue Line Club committed to accepting a donated dasher board system at an estimated value of $50,000 from the University of Denver.
EAST GRAND FORKS – The concept of an outdoor rink near the Blue Line Club Arena was again presented for East Grand Forks City Council members' consideration during a Tuesday evening work session.
The outdoor rink comes as the Blue Line Club committed to accepting a donated dasher board system — with an estimated value of $50,000 — from the University of Denver.
At their April 11 work session, council members reviewed two options related to the project. One entailed having a dasher board foundation for the rink at an estimated cost of $175,300, with the other entailing a concrete ice rink surface at an estimated cost of $267,800.
At a Blue Line Club meeting last week, a concrete ice rink surface was selected as the preferred choice. Other items not factored into the estimated $267,800 for the rink surface is rink lighting, a sanitary sewer manhole cover and adding a gutter system to the east exterior of the arena.
The Blue Line Club has determined to provide the funding to complete the project as estimated for the full concrete floor project scope, not to exceed a total project cost of $350,000. The club is asking the City Council to commit $100,000 to the project.
Parks and Recreation Superintendent Reid Huttunen told council members that the $100,000 could be split between the city’s building maintenance funds, which would be used for improvements needed inside the Blue Line Arena, and the remaining $50,000 would come from the city’s Altru Partnership Fund.
Several council members raised questions about the costs associated with maintaining the rink, along with how recreational projects in the city are prioritized.
“My concern is that if we give $100,000 to the Blue Line Club, is the baseball club going to come and ask for $100,000? Are the figure skaters going to come and ask for $100,000 — those types of things,” council member Karen Peterson asked. “My main question is, is there a process on how we prioritize this stuff? I get that we got the boards donated. It's fabulous, it’s wonderful, but is this a want to versus a have to?”
Huttunen said projects the city has taken on in the past have included asked-for projects, such as pickleball courts.
Mayor Steve Gander said projects that are driven by residents tend to be successful in the community.
“I’d like to see this go and the reason why is very often when something is driven by our people, it works,” Gander said. "It succeeds. It gets used.”
Huttunen said with the new rink, the two outdoor rinks at Stauss Park would no longer be in operation in order to save money and staffing needs. Huttunen said the new rink will require less water than the two outdoor rinks at Stauss Park.
Council member Dale Helms voiced his concerns on shutting down the Stauss Park outdoor rink, along with the number of parks located in the southern end of the city.
“How is that being equal to the city?” Helms asked. “People on the north end have to drive a long way to go skate.”
Judd Stauss, a Blue Line Club board member, said the new rink would be beneficial for anyone wanting to use the rink.
In other news Tuesday, council members:
- Considered filing plans and specifications along with setting a bid date for the LaFave Park project. The plans and specs include pavement and curb and gutter repairs, proposed boat parking and kayak launch parking, along with the location for the proposed picnic shelter.
- Discussed the need to set policies for what can be streamed on the city’s channel after Helms was contacted by a local church asking whether services could be streamed on the channel. Currently, the channel is utilized by the city and the school district. Several council members said they prefer the channel being used for governmental and educational purposes and not by private entities.