The Decatur City Council received four options for repairing the struggling Point Mallard Ice Complex, with the highest costing $1.4 million, as officials debate its fate. 

Parks and Recreation Director Jason Lake said broken pipes were found in the sand-based floor after the city shut down the ice complex in June for routine maintenance.

“We can put it back to the way it was in 2000, but we’re going to continue to have problems,” Lake said Monday at a council meeting.

Lake said the problem that makes the choices difficult for the council is the city has lost money in each of the rink’s 19 years and the life expectancy of the rink was said to be only 20 years when it was built.

Council President Paige Bibbee asked CFO John Andrzejewski to create a report on the rink’s financial history and outlook.

Lake said the options are:

• Repair only the broken lines in the sand-based floor, for $258,500.

• Fix all of the lines in the sand-based floor, for $383,225.

These two options do not include $6,000 needed to paint the floor and lines and $85,000 necessary for a concrete drainage floor. Lake said a new concrete drainage floor is needed because that’s where the rink’s problem with permafrost is being created.

• Overhaul the rink with a sand-based floor, for $1.3 million. This option includes new lines, rink walls and glass, refrigeration with monitoring ($350,000 to $400,000), new rubber flooring (up to $10,000), new netting ($30,000), lighting ($71,000), paint the floor and lines and concrete drainage for the floor.

• Overhaul the rink with a concrete floor, for $1.43 million. This option would include a concrete rink floor with new lines, ($516,000); rink walls and glass ($146,565), refrigeration with monitoring ($350,000 to $400,000), new rubber flooring (up to $10,000), new netting ($30,000), lighting ($71,000) painting the floor and lines and concrete drainage for the floor.

Lake said replacing the sand base under the ice with a concrete floor would create more opportunities for alternate uses. The ice complex was built to replace an outdoor rink when its age began to become an issue.

The outdoor rink had a concrete floor that allowed the city to thaw the ice, which Lake said now costs about $5,000. The facility then became a large outdoor pavilion in which the park held events or rented it out for private parties. The Spirit of America boxing tournament and the Steelcase company party were held there for years.

One issue that comes with thawing the ice is there would be more need for air conditioning to keep the complex cool during the summer.

Lake said he’s not prepared to make a recommendation for the future of the facility. However, he did say, “I would not go back to a sand floor.”

Nine people showed up to support the ice complex, including several from Huntsville.

Steve Clough, facility manager at the Huntsville Iceplex, and Edith Bower, director of a Huntsville figure-skating group, offered their services to come up with a plan for the Decatur ice rink.

Jean Paradise is a longtime supporter of the ice complex and the only Decatur resident to speak. She said the ice complex supports more than hockey. Special Olympics is held there annually along with the “Christmas Carol on Ice.” There’s also a curling league and figure skating, she added.

“We don’t want to lose any ice in north Alabama and the Point Mallard Ice Complex is definitely an asset to the city,” Paradise said.

Ard said a major part of the decision will be whether Decatur residents will support the ice complex.

“Obviously, this rink is here for the citizens of our city and that’s who I work for,” Ard said. “People from outside utilizing our facility is a plus, but we’re out here to solely serve our residents.”

bayne.hughes@decaturdaily.com or 256-340-2432. Twitter @DD_BayneHughes.

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