Co-ownership of Tartan Ice Arena dissolved


The Tartan Ice Arena, which has been in use since 1997, now needs several repairs including a new roof and updates to the ice making system. Aundrea Kinney/review

School District 622 takes sole ownership
 

The week of June 12, both Maplewood and Oakdale city councils unanimously agreed to relinquish the control and responsibility of owning the Tartan Ice Arena.

Maplewood, Oakdale and School District 622 had shared ownership of the arena, located at 740 Greenway Ave. N. in Oakdale next to Tartan High School, ever since its construction in 1996.

The three entities used $2 million in general obligation bonds to help pay for the construction of the facility, which has two ice rinks — one that is is open all year — and the final payment was made in February 2017, making this an ideal time to offer complete ownership and control to the school district.

At both city council meetings, council members shared their relief in passing the financial responsibility to the school district, especially considering the upcoming repairs the decades-old building now requires.

“It’s not like school districts love getting in the arena business,” said Randy Anderson, Director of Business Services for District 622. “It just made sense to take over the ownership of the building.”

He explained that the school district owns the property that the Tartan Ice Arena is built on and has managed the building since construction was completed in 1997.

“It’s part of our curriculum; it’s part of our sports teams; it’s part of our heritage. From that standpoint it’s really positive for the district.”

Now that the school district is the only entity involved, he said, the decision making process has been streamlined.

There will be many decisions to make in regards to the arena, considering the 20 years of wear and tear on the building are beginning to show. Several components of the facility will need to be repaired or replaced in the coming years, some with more urgency than others. 

The list of future projects includes repairing or replacing the roof, exterior envelope, doors, interior flooring, ice melting station and insulation. The ice making system also needs to be upgraded and the adjacent air-inflated dome structure is nearing the end of its lifespan.

Anderson explained that if the ownership remained with three entities instead of just one, they would have had to do another bond to pay for the deferred maintenance. Now, with the district’s sole ownership, new funding options are available including the Long Term Facilities Maintenance Program.

Anderson explained that this source of funding allows the district to bond for the money without voter approval or do pay-as-you-go levy certification on a year to year basis, also without voter approval. 

“Don’t get alarmed. We’re not all of a sudden going to throw that in so people get a tax increase,” Anderson added.

He clarified that this money could not otherwise be used for general education costs, and explained that the cost for these repairs can be mixed in with the district’s other planned maintenance projects over a ten year period. 

Before the recent ownership change, the money for the school district’s share of Tartan Arena expenses had to come from bonding or general fund money unless it was taken out of the arena’s operational budget.

“This, for us, will be better off because now we will have a source of funding that won’t impact our general fund to maintain the arena with,” Anderson said.

Although the list of needed repairs looks ominous, Anderson said the city and local residents shouldn’t see any rate changes when renting ice time and otherwise using the facility.

He added, “To the general public it should be business as usual. They shouldn’t see any difference.”

 

Aundrea Kinney can be reached at 651-748-7822 or akinney@lillienews.com.

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