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Arena work could start March 1

Construction could begin as early as March 1 on the long-planned $7.25 million downtown ice arena.

The National Trail Parks and Recreation District board approved several building contracts Monday. City commissioners are scheduled to vote Feb. 19 on a $2.85 million loan and a land lease agreement for the project.

A formal groundbreaking could be held in May and the facility could open this fall, if commissioners approve the loan.

The ice arena and expo center will be at West Main Street near Lowry Avenue on the site of the former Haucke complex, which the city razed and cleaned up with a brownfield grant at a cost of $400,000.

“This board tonight should be very happy with where you’re at today,” said City Commissioner Kevin O’Neill, the liaison to National Trail.

The ice rink is the last phase of the park district’s 10-year, $17 million capital campaign. That included Carleton Davidson Stadium, Splash Zone Family Aquatic Center and several smaller projects. The campaign consisted of a blend of private donations and taxpayer dollars, including a now-expired one-year, half-percent sales tax.

The Haucke site is the third downtown location for the arena. The district had first planned to put it where Ohio Valley Medical Center is now, then at the former Memorial Hall site.

O’Neill said the board should be proud that its long-planned dream will finally become a reality. That commitment for more than 12 years is one reason the city will likely agree to loan the money to sustain the project until private donors can pay it back, O’Neill said.

The board could have moved on to other projects, he said.

“You guys didn’t do that,” O’Neill said. “And that’s what’s convinced us that it’s important enough to follow through.”

The district also continues to negotiate with the OhioHealth Chiller Group, which runs several ice rinks in Columbus, to manage the ice arena.

The board awarded contracts Monday to two Springfield companies — a more than $402,500 agreement with Cason Roofing and a nearly $565,000 contract with Triec Electrical Services Inc. The district chose bids based on the lowest and best offers, district CEO Leann Castillo said.

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