City, SPARC mum on status of fund drive | AspenTimes.com

City, SPARC mum on status of fund drive

Janet Urquhart
Aspen Times Staff Writer

A decision on whether or not construction of a new ice rink at Iselin Park can proceed as scheduled has been delayed until next week, when the Aspen City Council meets again with the local group raising the funds to build it.

The council met behind closed doors Tuesday with the Friends for the Aspen Sports and Recreation Complex, but emerged without commenting on whether SPARC, as the group is known, has raised enough money to keep the project moving forward. The council agreed to meet again Monday with SPARC representatives.

“Monday, we hope to come to some decision,” said Ed Sadler, assistant city manager. “A lot of possibilities were bandied about.”

The council agreed last month that work on the rink would come to a halt unless SPARC could raise another $1.4 million to keep the project moving into the second phase of construction. The group was given an Aug. 15 deadline to come up with the money, in cash or pledges.

How much the group has raised toward that goal was presumably the topic of discussion in yesterday’s meeting, but city officials and SPARC members declined to comment on the status of the fund-raising efforts.

The new, NHL-sized rink will be part of the $17.6 million Aspen Recreation Complex now under construction at Iselin Park, located across Maroon Creek Road from the Aspen schools campus. It will also include two new swimming pools, a climbing tower and a new Aspen Youth Center.

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Construction is scheduled to wrap up early next spring; the question now is whether the rink will open along with the rest of the facility. The city and the youth center are financing the rest of the complex. SPARC came forward and offered to raise $8 million privately in order to include an ice rink at the center.

The group has paid a little more than $2 million to date in three quarterly payments. The city covered the group’s last payment of a little more than $2 million, due in July, with funds in the project budget that have not yet been spent on the city’s share of the construction work, according to Sadler.

“They’ve got that much in pledges,” he said. “A lot of that money is coming in this calendar year. It doesn’t appear that I’ll have to borrow all of that $2 million.”

At some point, when the project is complete and the construction contracts are paid in full, the City Council will have to decide where it will pull funds to cover any of the $2 million that has not yet been covered by outstanding pledges, Sadler said.

SPARC had raised more than $5.8 million in donations and pledges by mid-July, but some of that money has been spent on its fund-raising campaign.

Phase 2 of the rink construction includes a big component – installation of the refrigerated floor. Contractors for that part of the project have already been told not to show up, Sadler said.

If the council agrees Monday the project can go forward, the delay in getting contractors on the site should not be significant, he said.

If the council is not comfortable moving forward, the rink portion of the building will be enclosed but left unfinished for the time being, according to Sadler. The rest of the facility is on schedule and will open as planned, he said.

[Janet Urquhart’s e-mail address is janet@aspentimes.com]

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