Salem Lakes to seek ice rink facility info before deciding whether to pause rec center feasibility study

The Salem Lakes Village Board is going to have its consultants do a little more work before making a decision on whether to suspend a recreation center feasibility study.

The board voted unanimously Monday to table the suspension until the consultants come up with some figures for the cost of a two ice rink facility and projections for operations and revenue potential.

The board has been considering the development of a recreation center for at least five years and in July 2021 approved spending $47,500 on a feasibility study.

Last week, the consultants made a presentation to the board detailing some demographic and other information on Monday in order to test the board’s appetite for proceeding with the study. They estimated a facility with two ice rinks and a pool and other fitness uses could cost $40 million. At that price, they said it was likely the facility would not be self-sufficient and would require taxpayer support to remain solevant.

“We don’t believe its feasible at this point,” village administrator Michael Murdock said last week referring to conversations he has had with the consultants.

But Monday, proceeding at least long enough to test the feasibility of an ice rink centered facility gained some support from some board members and one audience member.

“I was a little disappointed because some of us on the board have wanted to take a look at this for years,” said Trustee Ted Kmiec. He added he feels there is demand for ice rink facilities in the area and he wanted more information about that before setting the study aside or killing the project altogether.

“It could be a start if it becomes an income producer,” Kmiec said. “Ice time sells for a ton of money. We’ve come this far, why not take a look at it.”

Audience member Chris Skrzynecki also supported exploring a scaled down facility focusing on ice rinks.

“I don’t think this town can afford $40 million,” Skrzynecki said. “None of you want to vote for that.” But maybe $10 million — about the same amount that was spent for the fire station 1/highway department complex in Trevor — might be feasible, he suggested.

“I think an ice rink is a nice draw,” Skrzynecki said. “I don’t want you to shut this down.”

Despite the unanimous vote for tabling, some board members still sounded doubtful about continuing the study.

“It would never pay for itself,” said Trustee Dennis Faber. “It would have to be taxpayer supported. It’s just not there yet for the population. I’m glad we did what we did but it’s just not financially feasible at this time.”

Trustee Bill Hopkins said he is concerned that even if the center was self-sufficient that could change with something such as a pandemic closing operations. Village taxpayer support then would likely be need to support the facility.

“We’re not out of this pandemic yet,” Hopkins said. “That is something that concerns me.”

Village President DIann Tesar said she fears an ice rink focused facility would not be widely palatable in the village because it is too specialized.

No timeline for getting the additional information was specified by the board Monday.

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