By Justin Sondel
Niagara Gazette — Mayor Paul Dyster is asking the city council to hire a consultant for work on one of the two rinks at the Hyde Park Ice Pavilion.
The move follows the council's passage earlier this year of a freeze on spending for all non-essential items, including consulting work.
Dyster said the work needs to be done soon or the city could risk losing the use of the rink, which would prove disastrous for rink operators Niagara Sports Tournament. The city wants to get the work done this spring and summer to avoid any issues during next year's hockey season.
"We're trying to fast track work on rink one in order to get a project done before the start of organized hockey in the fall," Dyster said.
The mayor's office, the council and rink operator Gene Carella have been working together to make sure everyone is on the same page for the repairs, Dyster said.
"We're all trying to work on this thing so that we can figure out what to do that's going to cause the least amount of problems for everyone involved," Dyster said.
City Engineer Jeffrey Skurka has identified Rink Specialists, a Maine company that has overseen repairs at Niagara University's ice rink and has worked with the Buffalo Sabres, as the best candidate for the consulting work. The company estimates that its services on the rink repair project would cost the city $85,500, according to a document attached to Dyster's resolution asking the council to approve the consulting fees.
Dyster said all involved parties were impressed with the company after a meeting earlier this month where a representative from Rink Specialists assessed the issues and provided a suggested solution.
"This is what they do," Dyster said.
Skurka has also arranged for representatives from another company, Thermo Source, which has installed geothermal systems in ice rinks across North America, to give a presentation at Monday's council meeting.
The immediate repairs to rink No. 1 would still be necessary, even if the city decided to switch to the geothermal system down the road, Dyster said.
"That would be something that we would be doing for our children and grandchildren," Dyster said.
The 42-year-old rink has corroded pipes and has experienced heaving, which could cause refrigeration lines to rupture, a result of the lack of a heating system to periodically defrost the cooling system, according to the resolution.
The money for the consultant would be supplied from a pool of funding set aside from the city's Special Projects Fund Balance specifically for renovations to the ice pavilion, according to the resolution.
Council Chairman Glenn Choolokian said the spending freeze implemented by the council would not apply in this case because the funding is coming from a pool of money that has already been set aside to repair the ice pavilion.
"The ice rink stuff, the money is there," Choolokian said.
The council will listen on Monday to the company representatives and Skurka and decide whether to give Dyster's office the authority to execute a deal and repair the rink, Choolokian said.
"Either way the rink has to get fixed," Choolokian said.