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Concrete pad not approved
Other options for skating rink being explored
The proposal to add a permanent concrete pad to The Lot to serve as a base for a synthetic ice skating rink met with resistance at a joint meeting of the city Building and Grounds Committee and city Parks and Recreation Committee Tuesday. - photo by Seth Wright

Temporary placement of a synthetic ice skating rink on The Lot again received approval by city officials, but installation of a permanent concrete pad did not. 

A joint meeting of the city Building and Grounds Committee and city Parks and Recreation Committee met Tuesday. They met to consider a proposal by Tourism Development Board members to construct a concrete pad on The Lot. 

When TDB approved purchase of the rink, it was believed that a plywood surface placed on The Lot would suffice as a base to support and level it. However, that turned out to not be the case. A level surface, such as a concrete pad, would be needed. Members offered to pay the cost of the concrete, estimated at $5,000, if the city supplied labor. 

The idea quickly met resistance. 

“Has there been any thoughts as to other places downtown where we could do this?” asked Alderman Stacey Harvey. “We already have a lot of concrete. We have a lot of hard surfaces. I don’t know if I’d be in favor of taking away a green space to replace it with concrete.” 

Parks and Recreation Department director Justin Scott relayed that an inspection of the Farmers Market area was conducted and the slope of the pavement would make placement of the rink there difficult, but not impossible. 

Alderman Rachel Kirby suggested the outdoor tennis courts at Milner Recreation Center.

“I believe the perfect place to try this out is the tennis courts, because it’s fenced,” she said. “There’s lighting. There’s parking. There’s a pavilion. It could be open all hours of the day and the night, not limited like it would be over here.” 

Mayor Ryle Chastain stated, “That doesn’t bring anybody downtown. It doesn’t bring people to spend money to eat, to shop and to see the sights of downtown McMinnville.”

“You could play tennis and go downtown for dinner,” said Kirby. “You could ice skate and go downtown for dinner.”

Chastain replied, “It’s not very festive over there.” 

The original intent of the rink was to place it on The Lot during Downtown Christmas activities, as well as during other activities that call for it. 

“I agree that it would be better on the green lot, but I cannot agree with taking away our green space when we have other alternatives to try to start with to see how it’s received here,” said Kirby. 

Chastain replied, “Some of The Lot would still be grass.” 

According to city landscape manager Hank Patton, the area would require re-sodding each time the rink is placed and removed. 

“(Patton) said it will cost $800 to $1,000 to re-sod, plus labor,” said Scott. “It’s essentially a 2,000 square foot rink. What we were looking at was about 2,400 square foot. There has to be a transition area for people going on and coming off to put their skates on. So, that’s what we were looking at for a pad to create this area.” 

Kirby replied, “That even lends itself more to the tennis court, to me.”

“I’m concerned about what we are pouring it on,” said Alderman Steve Harvey. “Best I remember, we just pushed dirt into the hole. I don’t think it was compacted or anything.”

Stacey replied, “It would have to be heavily reinforced.”

Steve questioned if that could be done for $5,000.

“Probably not,” said Stacey. “It can be done. There’s many ways to do that. One of the best ways is to over-excavate the area, remove the soil and put a bridge lift of large stone down. Compact that to refusal and then carry on. That’s probably $3,000 to $4,000 worth of work right there.”

That added expense would raise the estimated cost to possibly $9,000. 

Stacey suggested the city consider replacing the grass with high-quality turf material, as plywood could be temporarily placed over it without damage. “That would add to the cost - probably $15,000, not $5,000, for the work. Personally, I don’t think I would have voted for it, if I had known this at that time. It is what it is.” 

“We unanimously voted to put it on a wooden platform,” said Kirby. “To give it a try and take it back up. I don’t think anybody here had a problem with that. I don’t know why we can’t go back to a wooden platform that is temporary and see how it is received. We’ve never really laid eyes on this rink. We don’t really know what it looks like, how long it’s going to last, how durable it is, whether it’s a big hit and then goes away or whether it will crowd downtown parking. There’s a lot of unknowns that come with this.”

Alderman Everett Brock stated, “I prefer the concrete pad. I think that would be the way to go. I, also, prefer it to be downtown. I agree that the perfect place would be the tennis court. I don’t have any problem with that. It’s just not downtown.” 

Committee members unanimously voted to “table” the proposal to construct a concrete pad on The Lot, while continuing to explore other alternatives for leveling the synthetic ice skating rink’s base.