Council Faces Sticker Shock Over Arena Renovations

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It was going to cost a minimum of $9.7 million and that was trimmed down to $8.8 million.

The price tag for renovating the Fairgrounds Arena is lower, but it's still not a number the Watertown city council wants to hear.

"You have to be careful about how much debt you're taking on," council member Joe Butler said, "and from our regional discussion, this is pretty much doubling the amount of debt that the city incurs."

Stantec, an engineering and consulting firm, was in front of the council during a Monday night work session with a new plan.

After their first plan -- which included a second-floor lounge room, extra shower rooms and an arcade -- was criticized, they had a new lower-cost plan, but it still contained a lot of the old features.

Butler still wasn't pleased.

"The upstairs shower, and the lounge room -- I don't get excited about that as a priority," he said.

The plan would nearly gut the arena, except for the center of it all: the 40 year old ice rink. According to Stantec, Watertown's ice system is very old and could fail relatively soon, considering the average lifespan of a rink is 25 years.

The council wants to choose a lower-cost plan soon. Butler, who did almost all the talking at the two-hour plus session, says he wants the number to be around $6 million.
Friday, December 26, 2014
, Watertown, NY

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