Maysa planning a third rink

Minot’s Maysa Arena was of primary importance at the Tuesday evening meeting of the city’s park board. The board gathered at Roosevelt Park Zoo’s visitor center to discuss how many ice sheets the community could make best use of, among other things.

The room was fairly crowded as Minot Hockey Boosters program director Jarrod Olson took the lectern, to make the case for the arena’s future expansion. In what is estimated to be a $6.7 to 7.7 million project, the rinks’ primary user groups would like to see a third sheet added by 2015 in order to meet the demands of increased usage. At the moment, the district is renting additional ice from the All Seasons Arena. Of the expected costs the group requests about $3 million out of the city’s recreational facility fund, with the possibility of a $1.5 million commitment from the park board if those monies are needed. The full figure will be given the board by the beginning of next year. Once the project is okayed, it would be expected to be “ice ready” within about nine months.

The Maysa Arena is open year-round with skating space, the only such venue in the state. Putting the numbers together, Olson reports that over 4,000 hours of time were put in on the ice last year, a 10 percent increase over 2010. Maysa groups such as the Boosters and the Magic City Figure Skating Club put in nearly half of those hours, with 350 figure skaters and 539 hockey players, which is expected to increase to more than 600 in the coming year. He attributes growth in participation to the return of Minot’s junior gold program, 10-and-under hockey successes, and a “trickle-up effect” in enrollment as a result of outreach and youth hockey clinics.

Additionally, he said that the arena is in almost constant use for “everything from weddings” to “professional wrestling and pancake breakfasts.” With space at a premium, the expansion would add about 800 seats. The plan does not include costs for additional parking, of which city ordinances require 160 new spots to accommodate the additional seats. However, increased revenue would be expected to at least match the arena’s maintenance agreements with the city, and could cover its 50 percent share of the cost even with the expansion.

Commissioner John Drady was supportive of the project, moving to approve the plan as presented for future consideration. “We’ve been researching this project for a couple of years,” he said. “It’s needed.”

Commissioner Robert Petry agreed, adding “we have to continue to grow, whether we like it or not.” While the funding is available such projects ought to go ahead, or else risk falling behind other cities.

Other members were concerned that more proposals were yet to be delivered and that a commitment to the expansion should wait until a full list of projects is in hand. “We need to look at the big picture also,” demurred commissioner Cliff Hovda. There were a number of other projects to consider, “tennis courts that are destroyed,” renovations to complete; “we cannot afford all of them.”

After hearing concerns from supporters of the expansion that fundraising is left at a standstill without board backing, discussion made it plain that a decision to support the proposal did not imply that the new sheet would be the district’s top priority. “Hockey is growing, tennis is growing. Shoot, the community’s growing,” concluded commission Connie Feist. “There are all types of considerations.” After a lengthy discussion the board unanimously voted in favor of the expansion.

“And the work begins,” chimed Olson, after the decision was made.

The board was also presented with an assessment by Ryan Ackerman, of Ackerman-Estvold Engineering and Management Consulting. His proposal also dealt with Maysa Arena, with concerns about erosion undermining the paving and integrity of nearby roads. The original construction of the arena “exacerbated a problem,” explained Ackerman, a drainage issue that has been contributed to by other construction and development upstream. He wanted to know what the board’s “master plan” for the area entailed, recommending that any expansion to the arena grounds will first need a combination of French drains, concrete lining to prevent erosion and a storm water detention pond. In all, the project was estimated at about $1.6 million, which would include raw construction costs for the storm water system and an additional 90-spot parking lot.

“To fix the road you have to do the water detention,” Ackerman concluded, “to protect your investment.” After some discussion the board voted to okay the establishment of a special assessment district, plus the additional 90-spot lot. The next step will be for the plan to go to the Minot City Council, where its engineering department will make its assessment.

Also considered was a proposed three-field facility built to suit fastpitch girls softball, described as one of the fastest-growing activites for womens sports. The total project would cost about $1.6 million, half of which would be raised by the associated school and local fastpitch teams. The other $800,000 would be requested from the city’s facilities fund. Like the proposed Maysa expansion, after some discussion about the viability of the sport, the placement of the proposed facility, and maintenance costs for its upkeep, the board voted to approve the project for further consideration.

Bills totalling $923,379.01 and salaries of $129,585.15 were both approved, as was the decision to honor the Minot State University mens hockey team with a Resolution of Recognition of Their Appreciation for its championship win, to be presented soon at an appropriate event. Also, due to an error putting out varied bids for the building of a playground at Riverside Park, the board decided that out of fairness to the interested contractors they would reject the old bids, issuing a new uniform one for the project. A full-time position to meet the park district’s market and developing needs was also approved.