From the pages of
Sublette Examiner
Volume 2, Number 51 - March 20, 2003
brought to you online by Pinedale Online

Indoor rink nearly a done deal

by Cat Urbigkit

Gwen Schwab and Keith Raney led a contingent from the Pinedale Hockey Association, who came to request money from the Sublette County Commissioners Tuesday for converting the existing hockey rink into an indoor facility. Schwab said there are 139 skaters in the Pinedale program this year, 26 of which are adults. Schwab said she estimates that the program brings in $134,000 per year in revenue into the county.

Pledges totaling $105,050 over five years have been received from members of the community already, Schwab said, but the association is looking at John Sulenta's January 2005 deadline to have the building enclosed as a requirement for the donation of the land where the existing rink is located, so the money is needed sooner rather than later.

Schwab and Raney said the proposal is for a multi-purpose, pre-engineered building that could be used for various activities, from archery shoots and car shows, to hunter safety classes and in-line hockey.

The estimated cost of the proposed indoor facility is $750,000, of which the commission already set aside $500,000 in reserves for the building. Commissioner Bill Cramer said the group is now asking for another $250,000, so the group is now in essence "asking us for the full amount."

Commissioner Gordon Johnston said he doubted if the building could be constructed for just $750,000, when the ag center at the county fairgrounds cost well over a million dollars for what Johnston termed a tin building with a dirt floor.

"If we're going to do this project ... we need to be sure we have everything in it that we need," Commissioner Betty Fear said. She cautioned that cutting costs during construction could lead to problems with the building in the future.

Cramer noted the figures presented by the association include the group's donation of $265,000 in value for the existing foundation, board and miscellaneous equipment, in addition to the $105,000 in pledges. The association also anticipates a great deal of volunteer labor will be involved as well.

"The half a million is safe, it's in a sack," Johnston said.

The commission hasn't issued a decision on the funding request, but the majority of the three commissioners seemed generally supportive of the project, with only Johnston expressing reservations.

Johnston said when the commission set aside $500,000, it told the association in order to get that money, matching funds had to be raised.

"You haven't come up with the matching funds yet," Johnston said. Association members noted Johnston wasn't including the donation of the land in his figures, and items like power and plumbing installation have already been accomplished.

"I'll go ahead and say for myself, I'm in favor of doing this," Cramer said, noting that more than $365,000 in equity toward the building has already been secured by the group.

Fear said she would rather see the money come out of the upcoming county budget rather than reserve accounts. One possibility would be for the county to borrow from a reserve account and replace it with money in the new budget, Fear said, if the commission decides to give the go-ahead.

"I will say again, please do not cut corners just to make it look good to us," Fear said.

While the commission didn't make a final decision, the association plans to come back to the commission with a proposed timeline for building construction at the commission's next meeting.

"I feel pretty certain we'll be able to do this," Fear said.

Johnston added, "I would say go ahead and act like it's going to happen."

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