Border Arena future up for discussion - Sep. 18, 2013
Sometime this winter, the Garcelon Civic Center arena in St. Stephen will receive its first skaters. After that, a question will linger around the Border Area Community Arena and its future within the community.
That’s precisely why the arena board and St. Stephen Town council are holding a meeting next Wednesday, to hear any and all ideas about what the arena, which has long been a focal point in the community, can do to remain a facility that improves the lives of people in and around the town.
“The focus is to get as many suggestions and ideas about how we can repurpose the facility after the new Garcelon Civic Center comes online,” said Bob Coates, chair of the Border Area Community Arena Board. “We want as many people as possible to give us their thoughts about what the facility could be used for.”
There’s no need to sign up ahead of time to make a presentation, or to have a comprehensive or elaborate proposal prepared.
“We’re not looking at this point and time for budgetary constraints or needs,” said Coates, “We’re looking to create a wealth of information as to the desires of the community.”
The meeting, slated for a 7 p.m. start, is the first step in the transformation from the hotspot of hockey to, well, something else. The end result, Coates said, likely won’t be turning the space into a dedicated space for a single group or activity.
“We’re not looking on finding a single use, but what is the biggest impact we could have on the community as a service provider,” said Coates. There could be multiple uses for the space, although in the end; “Eventually, there’s going to have to be some sort of cost recovery.”
Also not off the table is the option of keeping ice in the Border Area Community Arena over the long term. While that option is, like all other options, nothing more than one of many potential uses at this point in time, it’s not a possibility Coates is discounting. “That could be something that comes out in those meetings. Nothing has been discounted,” said Coates.
“There is nothing at this point that limits potential use. It’s a facility the town owns and we’re trying to find what its best use will be.”
The final decision on the fate of the facility will fall to town council, which owns the facility, and the arena board.
There will be ice going into the arena this year, in fact, town staff will be making ice in the arena when the meeting is held in the meeting room upstairs. The ice plants will be turned on Sept. 20, and staff plan to have the ice ready to go for pre-season hockey clinics starting Oct. 2.
Getting the ice in for this year hasn’t come for free. The normal maintenance schedule for the ice making equipment required the compressors to be retooled, which should cost between $7,500 and $10,000, according to the estimate the board received.
Ice will remain in the long-standing arena, said Coates, “as long as it’s necessary. As soon as council says we don’t need a second ice surface, that’s when we’ll stop having ice.”
When the Sept. 25 meeting concludes, there still won’t be any firm decisions on what will become of the Border Area Community Arena. There will be ideas thrown around; many, Coates hopes. All with the idea one or several ideas will stick and the end result is the arena continuing to play a role in the betterment of the community.
The Garcelon Civic Center project came into being because the town’s construction costs for the new facility were less than the $4.5 million estimated cost of renovating the Border Area Community Arena.