Ice rink would be first-class |

Ice rink would be first-class

Editors Note: This is the second of a five-part series that describes in detail Measure S, the estimated $5.3 million recreational project that the South Lake Tahoe Alliance for Recreation has planned for the South Shore provided two-thirds of the community facilities district supports the plan in a special election Sept. 19.

If Measure S passes, the South Shore is in for a $3.8 million, 38,000 square-foot ice rink, described by consultant Scott Slavensky as a “family entertainment facility.”

The project would be located at 1176 Rufus Allen Blvd, the same site of the rink that opened for a mere six weeks in the winter of 1996-97.

Since then, Steve Weiss, city of South Lake Tahoe park and recreation superintendent, has searched for a developer to construct an ice rink.

Now, people have to travel to Squaw Valley, Sacramento, Sparks or Roseville in order to use ice skating facilities.

The problem in finding an investor is that it is not economically feasible. The cost of paying the mortgage on such a project precludes the generation of a profit. The operational costs are estimated at $400,000 to $500,000 per year, Weiss said.

If Measure S passes, the construction cost and debt fee would be eliminated, though an estimated additional $200,000 to $400,000 would be needed to provide startup costs such as a Zamboni (an ice smoothing machine), rental ice skates, vending machines, staff, advertising and marketing, according to Weiss.

“We need a total of $4 million for a turn-key operation,” Weiss said. This additional money would come from the city’s general fund, he said.

“The function of a city government is to provide community facilities and that is what is being done here,” Weiss said.

The new facility would be completely enclosed and would serve as a multiple purpose facility, Slavensky said. If Measure S passes, this would be the only enclosed ice rink readily available to South Shore residents. The proposed ice rink that is part of the Park Avenue Redevelopment Project is much smaller and would be an outside seasonal facility.

While ice skating rinks of the 1940s and ’50s were simple buildings that contained nothing more than an ice rink, this facility would provide not only a regulation size National Hockey League rink with a bleacher capacity of 300 to 500 people, but a complete self-contained facility with rental rooms for birthday parties and conventions, a pro-shop, skate rental area, locker rooms, snack bar and video arcade.

One of the goals of the ice rink design is to provide a safe environment for children, which is why it would have a drive-up turnaround for parents to drop off their children, Slavensky said.

The rink would include a stereo system and activities such as figure skating, adult and youth hockey leagues, both group and private skating lesons, and summer camps. Other possible activities could include indoor soccer or volleyball.

In addition, there would be the potential for special programs such as the “coffee club,” a morning senior citizen free-skate like the one at Skatetown in Roseville, which is run by Slavensky.

The South Lake Tahoe City Council has allocated $50,000 for preliminary design plans. If Measure S passes, more funding would be available to finalize the design and investigate what kind of permits would be needed.

“I don’t see permitting being a problem at all,” Weiss said. “We have already started the conversation with the TRPA, but until we take final plans to them they can’t issue a permit,” Weiss said.

Operation of the facility would fall into the hands of the city of South Lake Tahoe Park and Recreation Department, and all money generated from usage fees would be put back into the facility for operational costs, according to Weiss.

“It has everything it needs to be a successful operation,” he said.

If Measure S passes and all goes as planned, construction could begin as soon as May 2001 and the rink could be completed by November or December of 2001, according to Weiss.

If the ice rink is built the city would be self-insured from any damages up to $250,000 per occurrence, according to Catherine DiCamillo city of South Lake city attorney. The city is also part of a risk- haring pool, made up of other city and government agencies that provides additional coverage for up to $10 million, she added.

Although it is difficult to predict what effect the ice rink will have on the tourism industry, according to John Upton member of the city of South Lake Chamber of Commerce, it will certainly provide residents with additional recreational opportunities.

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