Ice rink’s cost more than expected |

Ice rink’s cost more than expected

Cost estimates for the 37,000-square-foot indoor ice rink approved by Measure S voters have come out higher than expected.

Estimates to complete the project as originally proposed are between $700,000 and $900,000 more than the original $3.8 million, said Steve Weiss, South Lake Tahoe Parks and Recreation superintendent.

But efforts to shave costs are being made. To stay within the $3.8 million budget, two of the four team locker rooms, a referee locker room and a storage area will not be completed by the opening of the ice rink, scheduled for the end of 2001. In addition the type of roof is being changed, and the amount of siding is being decreased. Weiss also said funds set aside for start-up costs may need to be dipped into to pay for the refrigeration system, which keeps the ice frozen.

But John Upton, an organizer of Measure S, said that if interest rates remain low, the bonds proposed for sale in mid-February could yield an additional $800,000 above the proposed $5.6 million for all the recreational projects, which include improvements to Tahoe Paradise Park, ball fields and maintenance money for bike trails.

Legally, the cost to property owners cannot exceed $18 a year, nor can the cost of the bond be higher than $6.5 million.

“At the moment interest rates have come down significantly from what we have been basing Measure S,” Upton said. “If the interest rates stay as favorable as they are, we may be able to provide more than $3. 8 million toward the cost of the ice rink, and still be within the limits that the taxpayers would pay and still be within the limits of the bond issuance of $6.5 million.”

But, although the planners of the project provided a financial buffer in the case of cost overruns, not all costs to the plan have been defined.

While the city of South Lake Tahoe is responsible for the ice rink, El Dorado County still has not come up with a cost estimate for the ball fields near Lake Tahoe Community College, leaving those implementing Measure S without a concrete picture.

“There are a lot of unanswered questions at this point, and we don’t know who will answer these questions,” said City Councilman Bill Crawford.

But beyond financing the structure, questions linger about parking spaces. The recreation complex has 162 parking spaces, which could be shared with the proposed ice rink. But according to city code a 37,000 square-foot structure would require an additional 155 parking spaces not accounted for in the plan, said city councilwoman Judy Brown.

“If we want this to be a success, we are going to need to make adequate parking,” Brown said.

Dave Solaro, member of the Joint Powers Authority for Measure S, said that the project will be completed as promised even if some of the amenities need to be phased in later.

“The bottom line is we have a budget that was approved by the voters and we can’t go over budget,” he said. “If we have to trim some of the amenities to stay within the budget then that is what we will do.”

Councilwoman Brooke Laine said she is determined to deliver the ice rink the voters were promised.

“There is a commitment and there will be an opportunity to build additional amenities and (the voters) can be proud of their willingness to come forward with the money to make it happen,” Laine said.

Last Tuesday, the City Council approved a $275,000 design contract with Arktegraph to finalize ice rink designs. The city had already paid the same company $50,000 for preliminary designs.

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