Could a new Worthington Ice Arena be located on District 518 land?
“We have hockey and as long as hockey’s part of the programming, there’s going to be a cost with that.”
WORTHINGTON — Questions surrounding the future of the Worthington Ice Arena gave the District 518 Board of Education’s Operations Committee pause Tuesday as its members considered whether to construct new ball fields near the Intermediate School.
“I think everybody is well aware that the hockey facility is probably 40 years old at this point, or close,” said Superintendent John Landgaard, noting the discussion includes maintenance, but also potentially building a new facility — and locating it on the Crailsheim property near the Intermediate School could be an option.
That would change the school’s projected layout for new ball fields in that area, but it could also allow for potential savings, Landgaard said, allowing existing parking lots or lots that would be built for the ball fields to be used for the possible hockey arena as well.
The existing ice arena is owned by the Worthington Hockey Association but leased for $1 per year by the city of Worthington, which also assumed responsibility for maintenance, scheduling and management. The arena is located on property owned by the Nobles County Fair Board.
Given the school’s use of the arena for its hockey program, it is likely District 518 would be asked to participate in some portion of the cost of building a new arena.
“I will tell you it’s not cheap, particularly if you’re looking at two sheets of ice, and one might be a year-round sheet of ice,” Landgaard said. “We have hockey, and as long as hockey’s part of the programming, there’s going to be a cost with that.”
Landgaard said the current arena hosts a number of hockey tournaments, which have an economic impact on the community through hotel room rentals and purchases of food, gas and other items.
Committee Chairman Adam Blume expressed concerns about having a hockey facility on District 518 property, noting he isn’t happy that some people are willing to send their children to Worthington for hockey opportunities but not for school.
Steve Schnieder, committee member, responded that school sports partnerships are typically formed when they allow District 518 to have an active program when they otherwise wouldn’t.
Earlier, District 518 had sketched out a plan for its Crailsheim properties showing where soccer and baseball fields could potentially be built in the future.
Three specific options went before the committee on Tuesday — constructing a new varsity baseball field at the Crailsheim site for $2.26 million, constructing two new soccer fields at the Crailsheim site for $2.13 million, and converting the existing Worthington Middle School grass practice field to artificial turf for $3.42 million.
Another variable in the conversation is that a donor approached the school for naming rights, Landgaard said, and is most interested in a soccer field.
No decisions were made at the meeting, and most likely, the school board will have a work session to talk about the issues further in April.
The committee also received an update on the traffic study for Crailsheim Road.
Though the survey was done, Landgaard said he had not been provided with the report as yet, but understood that the speed limit signs will be moved closer to Fox Farm Road, which will slow traffic slightly in that area, and school zone speed limits could be put in place also.
“It’s not going to be a substantial change,” he cautioned.
The superintendent also expressed his disappointment that Nobles County’s projected work on the area in front of the Learning Center, which included turn lanes and building in a ditch, has been delayed by potentially four or five years.
“I can tell you from my perspective, I’m not happy about nothing being done for four or five years. And I personally am a little frustrated with this,” Landgaard said, referring to potentially “high traffic, high frustration.”
He said he will bring up the issue at the next school board meeting, which begins at 6:15 p.m. Tuesday in the band room at Worthington High School.
Achievement and Integration Plan
The committee also received the Achievement and Integration Plan, which the state requires be produced every three years.
The goals will decrease the reading proficiency gap between white students and Hispanic students in elementary school; increase cultural competency of paraprofessionals; increase staff comfort levels in maintaining positive relationships with kids different than themselves; and increase the number of teachers of color in District 518.