A multi-million dollar plan by Bismarck parks and public school districts to build another skating rink in town is going ahead, and likely without raising taxes.
Bismarck Parks and Recreation District and Bismarck Public Schools are joining forces to add an additional ice rink at the VFW Sports Center in response to growing community needs. The project adds the additional rink, a concession stand, changing rooms and parking, as well as improvements to one of the building’s two existing rinks. It is estimated that it takes 22 months to complete.
The school district’s portion of the funding comes from federal coronavirus relief dollars, and the park district’s contribution will be funded through a combination of income bonds, general fund reserves, proceeds from the sale of naming rights. community facilities and partnerships. Bismarck Youth Hockey Boosters have also pledged $ 1 million to the project.
Bismarck’s public school board voted unanimously Monday night to commit up to $ 3.5 million to the project. Ahead of the vote, the board heard from district operations director Dave Zittleman about the scheduling issues BPS hockey teams face with limited ice time.
The school board voted last spring to approve a boys ‘hockey team at Legacy High School for the current school year and a girls’ hockey team for the 2022-2023 school year, but these additional teams stretch even further. the schedules of the already overcrowded rinks. Some boys’ teams have to combine college and junior college training, which leads to 30 or more players on the ice at a time, Zittleman said. And the BPS hockey teams aren’t the only ones who need to use the rink. Youth hockey teams, figure skaters and curlers also need ice time, he said.
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The board, in response to these concerns about the schedule, asked district officials to review a pilot program that would allow hockey players to practice during the school day and potentially receive physical education credit.
Bismarck Park’s board of directors voted 4-1 Tuesday morning to move the project forward and reviewed a draft fundraising plan. Commissioner Mark Zimmerman voted against continuing the plan. During the council’s discussion of the project, he said he believed the planning had been rushed and other locations for the rink should be considered.
Other commissioners said that while they were eagerly awaiting the partnership with the school district, they would have liked BPS to spend more money on the rink. The school district plans to use the remainder of the federal aid it received for other purposes, including work on Legacy High School and funding for a possible elementary school in South Bismarck.
Commissioner Mike Gilbertson said the park board is expected to give the project the green light on Tuesday because adding another rink will only become more expensive over time.
“I have lived in Bismarck my whole life, and it seems like there is sometimes a dominant attitude of ‘No, not now, not now …’,” he said. “Well, it’s not going to get any cheaper, and the need isn’t going to go away.”
The funding portion of the park district project promises to be considerably larger. Adding the third rink will cost around $ 8.8 million, of which BPS and hockey boosters contribute about half the cost. Adding the additional ice rink and expanding the parking lot means the Sheila Schafer Junior Links course needs to be moved, which is estimated to be nearly $ 2 million, and a clubhouse and parking lot would cost around 2.5 million dollars. millions of dollars. Upgrading one of the existing rinks would cost about an additional $ 3 million.
The plan is to use approximately $ 1.4 million in general fund reserves, $ 6.35 million in revenue bonds, and $ 2.75 million in grants, naming rights or other sources. The park district can cover bond payments under its current budget, according to executive director Kevin Klipfel. Some community organizations such as the Dakota Junior Golf Association and Ducks Unlimited have expressed interest in providing funds but have not made any formal commitments, he said. The draft financial plan provides for $ 1.2 million from these groups.
The project is now entering the design phase with Ubl Design Group.
Contact Sam Nelson at 701-250-8264 or [email protected]