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Windom continues ice arena planning

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WINDOM — Plans for a renovated or new Windom ice arena are moving forward as the Arena Building Committee continues to review preliminary plans for the project.

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The committee, formed by members of Windom groups with stakes in the project, is currently working with an architecture firm to assess space needs and other features that may be included in the facility.

Earlier this year, key members of the project toured arenas throughout Minnesota to gather information about other community’s ice facilities.

“We did a tour of arenas in the state and got an idea of what worked well and didn’t work well and what they would do different,” Windom City Administrator Steve Nasby said. “We’ve been working with the architect on some preliminary floor plans and have some preliminary cost estimates.”

Paulsen Architects, a full service architecture firm based in Mankato, has been working with the city on the project and has submitted three possible estimates.

According to Nasby, Paulsen Architects estimates a new, single ice sheet facility would cost approximately $6.8 to $6.9 million.

Renovating the existing facility would cost approximately $7.4 million. Construction of a new, two-sheet facility would cost approximately $8 million to $8.4 million.

The existing Windom Ice Arena has a sheet and a half of ice, and the committee is hoping to not decrease the amount of available ice space.

“The preference is not to go smaller than what we have,” Nasby said. “That would be the preference. You don’t want to lose ice.”

To fund the project, a local option sales tax request was submitted to the state legislature for approval during the 2013 session. The measure, though, did not pass.

“Windom wasn’t the only community who asked for it, but none of them were approved,” explained Nasby. “They were left out of the tax bill. They didn’t get out of committee and didn’t get on the tax bill, but we’ll be back for the 2014 session requesting the new sales tax.”

If approved by the state, Windom citizens would subsequently vote on the proposed measure before it was implemented.

If passed, the local option sales tax will be used to match state bonding dollars, which are also pending approval and require a 50/50 match from the city. The Windom City Council approved requesting $4 million in state bonding dollars this summer.

“The state takes bond requests on even-numbered years for projects that occur throughout the state,” Nasby said. “That request was submitted and is currently pending.”

While the Arena Building Committee is still exploring both new construction and the renovation options, there has already been talk about possible locations for a new facility. Likewise, the fate of the existing Windom Ice Arena is still undetermined if the committee decides against renovation. However, Nasby said there has been discussion about continuing to use the existing arena for many of the events and activities currently hosted in the building during the summer months.

“In the winter, the current arena could be used for storage and other activities,” Nasby said. “In the summer, it could be used for the same thing it is now — horse and livestock shows and activities that don’t require ice.”

With a new or renovated facility, Windom is hoping to draw additional tournaments and “things that we can’t accommodate right now,” Nasby said.

The current 50,000-square-foot arena was built in 1975 and was one of the first indoor ice facilities in southwestern Minnesota. The building houses two ice rinks — the first 85 feet by 200 feet with seating for 1,100, and the second 45 feet by 165 feet.

The Windom community has strong hockey and figure skating programs, and the existing facility is actively used. Youth hockey games and tournaments, figure skating lessons, ice shows, broomball and open skating are hosted in the arena from November through March. Horse shows, auto shows, auctions and county fair events take place in the summer months.

The Arena Building Committee will host a meeting at 5:15 p.m. Monday in the City Council Chambers to review information with the architecture and board members.

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Alyson Buschena
Alyson joined the Daily Globe newsroom staff after spending a year in Latin America. A native of Fulda and graduate of the University of Northwestern, she has a bachelor's degree in English with a dual concentration in Literature and Writing and a minor in Spanish. At the Daily Globe, Alyson covers the crime beat as well as Pipestone and Murray counties, community news and feature stories. In her spare time, she enjoys traveling, reading, and cooking. More of Alyson's writing can be found at http://throughthelookingglass.areavoices.com.
(507) 376-7322
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