Deadline looms for ice rink | AspenTimes.com

Deadline looms for ice rink

Janet Urquhart
Aspen Times Staff Writer

The group raising funds to build an ice rink at Iselin Park has until April 22 to come up with contributions and pledges totaling $6.9 million.

At that time, the Aspen City Council must decide whether it feels comfortable moving ahead with further work on the rink, said Ed Sadler, assistant city manager.

The council met with members of the Friends for the Aspen Sports and Recreation Complex on Monday for an update on the group’s progress in raising the necessary funds. The council also set the April 22 deadline.

SPARC has already raised $5.7 million of its total goal of $8 million, said member Scott Writer.

“We’re committed to raising the $8 million. We’re out there pumping,” he said.

SPARC doesn’t want the city to stall on ordering any of the material or equipment needed to build the rink, Writer said. “We want Ed to sign every contract that comes across his desk.”

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The city, however, must decide how confident it is in contributions that have come in the form of pledges for future funds rather than money that’s in the bank, said City Attorney John Worcester.

“I’m certain that all of these people are well-meaning and want to donate,” he said. “I need to have some assurance that the pledges they have are fairly good.”

Worcester said he doesn’t have that assurance for all of the $5.7 million that has been raised thus far.

“We are at the point where we have to decide whether we want to proceed to phase 2,” he told the council.

The council gave Sadler the go-ahead last month to begin ordering equipment for the second phase of rink construction based on total pledges to SPARC at that time.

“The money they’ve got pledged to date will pay for it,” Sadler said. “But we continue with a list of things that we have to order, which means we’re on the hook to pay for it.”

SPARC had to raise $3.2 million in order for the city to start construction of the rink last spring. The first phase will be complete when the structure is enclosed, in about a month, according to Sadler.

Sadler said he does not expect SPARC to have a problem paying the final bills for phase 1. The group has met all of its quarterly payments so far, he said.

The phase 2 plateau of $6.9 million (the initial $3.2 million is part of that sum) includes the bulk of the work; $1.1 million for phase 3 will finish the project.

The council is aware that the city may have to cover some of the expenses associated with the ice rink until pledged funds come in, Sadler said.

It’s up to the council to decide “if it’s willing to float that kind of cash before it comes in,” he said.

Aspen does have funds that could be tapped to pay for some portion of the rink, assuming the council is confident SPARC will collect enough money to repay the city, plus interest, Sadler said.

SPARC members had asked to discuss their fund-raising campaign with the council behind closed doors, but Worcester advised the group that there did not appear to be legal justification to shut out the public.

The council did meet in executive session for further discussion after its meeting with SPARC.

The $17 million complex under construction at Iselin Park includes a new Aspen Youth Center, two swimming pools and the privately financed ice rink.

The project is scheduled to wrap up at the end of the year. It will be called The ARC, an acronym for Aspen Recreation Complex.