Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Committe Established to Determine York Arena's Fate
(excerpts from article published in the Daily Gleaner, July 16/11)

An ad hoc community on the future of York Arena has been created by Mayor Brad Woodside with Coun. Mike O'Brien at its helm. That's going to divert two groups looking to keep the building in the city's recreation inventory from council to that committee to pitch their case.

The Save The York Arena group, which wants barebones repairs made to keep the rink in the city's sports inventory to accommodate growing demand for ice time, was slated to speak to city council. Meantime, the Fredericton Athletics Association, which represents a group in runners looking for an indoor track, was booked to give a report to the city's community services committee this week.

"Council had asked staff to come back with an updated ADI report on the structure and the costs, and the staff were prepared to do that. Now, a group has come forward that represents the indoor runners club that they wanted to form. They've got what looks on paper like a viable option. The Save the York Arena group has been meeting diligently for the last year and has refined their numbers and research so they have information," O'Brien said.

"I myself had been fairly strong at one time saying, 'We can't afford this,' but have met with that group several times, and I have met with staff and it looks like there may be some untested options at the moment about how to reduce costs of operating that place and still make that a viable operation," the councillor said.

He said there's no rush because the city has already decided the York Arena isn't coming down.
"We'd have to reverse that if we ever did, and the York Arena definitely has to remain open next year," O'Brien said.

When the city rescinded the motion to demolish the arena, it was with the understanding it would be open for the next couple of years and it will be open for at least the next year, he said.

Scott Davis, acting chairman of the recently created Fredericton Athletics Association, said the group will meet and talk with the city on how to best present its information. "We know there's another proposal out there for refurbishment into a rink, but we kind of had this idea going when the Nashwaaksis Arena was demolished after the Willie O'Ree Centre was put up.

"Our thoughts are if the city is looking at two options, either refurbish it as a rink ... or the only other option is to demolish it. We'd like to have it known that we are looking for a facility, and a building this size would meet our needs, and there is an interest from our group to reuse that facility rather than demolish it."

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