The long-awaited replacement for the existing facility that is around a half century old and has long been showing its age, finally headed to tender after the decision was made by Council Monday, albeit without much debate.
The debate still included design concerns such as whether large doors that opened to the deck to make the combined seating area were needed and if a fireplace was an aesthetic worth spending dollars on?
And, the debate included some big picture thought processes too, such as what impact investing some $7 million on the overall clubhouse project – including finally taking City water and sewer services to the course – might fit in with the impending need to upgrade or outright replace the Kinsmen Arena?
Since both the arena and clubhouse have been known projects for years, Council should by now know, which of the two is the priority should the ability to fund both at this time come into question. Having predetermined which to proceed with should it come down to a choice would have answered much of the debate ahead of time.
There is of course limited dollars Council will want to invest in recreation at any given time so tough choices may need to be made at some point.
However, the clubhouse was tender ready.
The Kinsmen Arena question is at this point rather more complicated and how to proceed very much a question mark.
Council had directed Administration to determine how to keep the current Kinsmen Arena functioning for another 15-years – out to roughly 2036. That report comes to Council at its Nov. 15 meeting.
At that time the first question is whether the dollar amount put forward to keep the old building going is worth spending since it is essentially money you figure to tear down in 15 years?
Or, is the money you need to band aid the rink better invested as part of a new second arena likely at the Gallagher Centre?
And, should Council opt to fix-up the current Kinsmen, what of the shortfalls at the Westland Arena?
The hockey dressing rooms are shoeboxes and there has been a long-standing interest from groups, including the Junior Terriers, to address the issue with new dressing rooms.
Also, if you are over six-feet tall, you will understand the seating at the arena is more akin to a medieval torture device for your legs, than a comfortable vantage point to watch an event.
When the Gallagher Centre was expanded and upgraded last, an investment of some $20 million, it was a great project, but the ice arena was largely ignored in terms of work, and twinning the arenas would allow addressing some concerns.
But, does it mean the dressing rooms remain untouched for another 15 years, if the City fixes up the Kinsmen Arena?
And more projects will arise, and new decisions will need to be made – talk of a pump track while far lower in cost – shows that.
Still you make the best decision today with the information at hand, the dollars available and the needs of the community best-addressed.
The clubhouse project does that quite well.
It is yet to be seen what the best path will be in terms of the city’s second arena, a question with far more variables that may take some months to final determine.