By Justin Sondel
Niagara Gazette — The Niagara Falls City Council will hold a special meeting today to vote on a resolution that would approve a contract for repairs to the Hyde Park Ice Pavillion.
The council was set to vote on an agenda item that would have approved a contract with Rink Specialists, an engineering firm that specializes in ice rink repairs, for design work and project management at the April 1 council meeting. But at that meeting Thermo Source, an energy resource firm that specializes in geothermal technology, gave a presentation on their geothermal ice system, which they say can cut energy costs in the rink by 50 percent.
Council members were intrigued by the presentation and discussed the option of a special meeting to allow for more time to explore the alternate technology. The issue is time sensitive, as whatever company repairs the rink will need to begin work soon in order to complete the work on rink 1 in time for the 2013 -14 hockey season.
Councilman Charles Walker said he does not think it would make sense to complete traditional repairs now, as Rink Specialists is planning on, if the city might move to a geothermal system to save on energy costs a few years down the road.
The council voted unanimously to table the agenda item that would have given the work to Rink Specialists in order to further discuss the two options. They will have to vote on the original agenda item at the special meeting to be held at 5 p.m. today.
Gene Carella owns Niagara Sports Tournament, the company that currently serves as the operator of the rink. At the April 1 meeting he said he had no strong preference as to which company performed the work, so long as he had ice by the time next hockey season comes around.
“We want that rink open in mid-August if we can possibly do it,” Carella said. “That’s when our customers are going to be coming back and that’s when the hockey season is going to start.”
Thermo Source said that they could complete repairs by August, and that they could help the city finance their system.
Company officials said the city can enter into a contract where all savings on energy costs would be put toward the cost of the project, with the city having no obligations until after the construction is complete.
Rink Specialists is a reputable company that has done work for the Buffalo Sabres and Niagara University. The resolution to sign them on as the project manager would cost the city $85,000. They would oversee all stages of the project from design to the bid process and straight through the completion of the work.
City officials say that the 42-year-old rink may not make it through next season without needing to be shut down for significant repairs.
Councilwoman Kristen Grandinetti said the council needs to move forward with the Rink Specialist contract to ensure the repairs are completed in time for next season.
“If we don’t OK those particular repair funds right now we can’t guarantee that they will be done in time,” Grandinetti said. “That is why I want to put the vote forward right now and look into the geothermal option in the future.”
Grandinetti said the city needs to be a good landlord to Carella, who started managing the rink last summer, and ensure that he can fulfill his obligations to his customers next year.
“I think we owe it to them to move forward,” Grandinetti said.with mug - Walke, Charles Charles Walker Looking at rink repairs