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Council tables vote on planned new ice arena

The Worthington City Council on Monday ultimately took no action on making any type of commitment to a new ice arena facility.

Worthington City Administrator Steve Robinson began the discussion by noting three funding sources were available for a new ice arena -- undesignated reserves, general obligation bonds and local option sales tax revenue. Also present was Ron McCarvel of the Nobles County Fair Board, who said that board would be open to further discussion about the new facility. The current Worthington Ice Arena is located at the Nobles County Fairgrounds; the site of a new ice arena has yet to be determined.

City Councilwoman Amy Ernst, early in the discussion, said she believed the council should make a financial commitment to the project, and suggested an amount of $10 million. She added that she didn’t want any new money dedicated to the old facility, preferring to invest in just a new arena.

City Councilwoman Aiaina Kolpin suggested the city commit up to $10 million and added that she had an interest in seeing how much the Worthington Independent School District 518 designates toward the project. Councilman Chris Kielblock talked about the potential of exploring a site on the north side of Worthington close to the interstate, while Councilman Chad Cummings said he was OK with the $10 million figure while stressing the project was critical to the city’s being seen as a regional hub.

Robinson pointed out that should the council make a commitment toward a new ice arena, it should set a sunset date so that a future council isn’t stuck with a project it didn’t vote for. Council members then decided to not make any formal motions on the matter. Robinson said he thought while any type of action wasn’t immediately necessary, “at some point we have to stop talking about it and make a decision.”

Also Monday, the city will be heading back to the drawing board on planned sanitary sewer installation work along East Ninth Avenue.

The council hosted a public hearing on the proposed project, during which time it was noted that three properties would be sharing the costs of the work. Council members were presented with four options on how to proceed with the project, and they ultimately chose postponement and rescheduling. Two affected property owners present for the hearing were OK with this decision, with one adding the potential exists for costs to be shared with a fourth property.

Robinson explained the importance of the project’s assessments falling within statutory requirements and said it was important for city staff to study the project further. He noted that the issues along East Ninth Avenue have “been that way for 60 years” and that in the big picture, taking another year to assure the project is completed in the best possible fashion was the right choice.

In another matter Monday, council members – after a brief discussion – took no action on matters pertaining to the collection of a 10 percent gross sales royalty fee from the operator of the Worthington Event Center, and the city’s payment of all Event Center utility expenses. Event Center operators have indicated that they likely would have to terminate their agreement with the city if the city’s financial support did not continue.

The consensus of the council was that more information was needed before making a decision, and Robinson said he would work toward getting that and then asking the council to take up the matter again at a later date.

Also Monday, council members voted to increase the costs for tags associated with the annual city spring cleanup from $11 to $15. Public Works Director Todd Wietzema said the fees for the tags – which apply to mattresses, box springs, appliances, furniture and electronics – haven’t changed in more than 10 years, and that they would still remain lower than other regional communities that also have a similar event.



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