City To Study Ice Rink Costs, Feasiblity

Two proposals were presented to the Warsaw Park Board Tuesday afternoon – one on a further study of the ice skating rink at Central Park and the other on pursuing a grant for improvements to Kerr and Richardson-Dubois Park.
Plummer reminded the board that at the June meeting, K21 Health Foundation Executive Director Rich Haddad presented a Kosciusko Leadership Academy White Paper Project on an ice skating rink. The park board then approved the organization of a committee to further investigate that.
“We have formed that committee,” Plummer said, with Park Board President Steve Haines, Board Vice President Larry Ladd, Mayor Joe Thallemer, City Planner Jeremy Skinner, Recreation Director Sheila Wieringa, Maintenance Director Shaun Gardner, Haddad, OrthoWorx Executive Director Brad Bishop, Warsaw Community Development Corp. and Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Rob Parker, Kosciusko County Convention and Visitors Bureau Executive Director Jill Boggs and himself on that committee.
The committee met for the first time Aug. 3. They discussed having a combined multi-use skating rink and park office combined facility.
Originally, the facility was proposed to be located in the middle of Central Park, but after further considering, the committee came up with the idea of replacing the Center Lake Pavilion with the facility. There’s still more work to do, Plummer said.
He said the committee’s next step is to explore the location and cost of the project. He asked the Park Board for its permission to do that.
Rick Paczkowski, Park Board member, asked if they had an idea of the size of the facility. Plummer said the rink itself was 80 by 180 feet but couldn’t recall the park office square footage.
Thallemer said Plummer was just presenting a footprint of where it could be, but there was no design or anything for the facility. The plan would not take away any green space from the park, Thallemer said.
Larry Ladd, board vice president, asked where the money would come from for the facility study. Plummer said they don’t know yet, but once they found out how much it will cost, then they will find out where the monies will come from to do it.
Ladd said it was a great project and exciting to consider. He then made a motion for the committee to proceed, and his motion was unanimously approved.
“I think it’s an exciting project, and it will be fun to get into,” Haines said.
For discussion on the park improvement grant, the Park Board held a second public meeting at 6 p.m. Tuesday.
As part of the city’s Stellar Communities projects, Kerr neighborhood park was to be expanded to include a 2- to 5-year-old playground, new shelter and a water feature. Richardson DuBois Park was to be expanded to include a skate park, new basketball court and restrooms. On Thursday, the city learned it was not named a 2016 Stellar Communities designee, having lost to Rushville in the state competition.
At Tuesday’s meeting, Plummer said they were now applying for an Office of Community and Rural Affairs grant for the park projects. The project at a third park on East Market Street, Krebs Trailhead, was set aside for this round of OCRA grants.
Kathleen Weissenberger, owner of KW Consultants, Indianapolis, who worked with the city on the Stellar projects, said the special public meeting was a requirement for the application of the OCRA grant funds.
“This particular program is called the Public Facilities Program. It’s for public facilities and public improvements, so it could be a parks project, it could be historic preservation, it could be a community center. All of those type of projects competed against each other,” she said.
The maximum grant amount is $500,000, and at least a 10 percent local match of the total project cost is required.
Weissenberger said the first thing they had to do was submit a letter of interest, which is due by Friday. If the project matches the objectives of the grant program, she said OCRA will contact the mayor directly by the week of Aug. 26. A full application will then have to be submitted and another public hearing will be required. The full application would need to be submitted back to OCRA by October. If Warsaw receives the grant funding, it would have 18 months to complete the park projects.
The announcement of the grant winners will be made in December, she said.
Thallemer said that even though Warsaw wasn’t designated a Stellar Community, the city was still going to pursue the projects.
“The whole idea is we’re moving ahead anyway. This really shows the committee we’re doing what we said we were going to do,” he said.
He also said they know how important these projects are to the city.
Paczkowski asked where the grant money came from, and Weissenberger said they were federal dollars run by the state.
No action was taken by the Park Board Tuesday as it was just a public meeting on the application. Though no members of the public were present for the meeting, Thallemer noted it was advertised.