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South Windsor Council to Discuss Recreation Center Project Financials

Town Manager Matthew Galligan said that more information was needed, particularly on the hockey rinks, before any decision is made.

The South Windsor Town Council tonight will discuss the options and preliminary financials for the proposed recreation center at The Promenade Shops at Evergreen Walk, according to the agenda.

In his report to the council, Town Manager Matthew Galligan presented three options for a recreation center, with the net cost to the town ranging from $514,000 per year for a $5 million, 35,000-square-foot recreation center to $727,000 per year for a $7.54 million, 52,700-square-foot project.

All three projects, whose estimates include debt service and IRS depreciation, would include an aquatics center, a gymnasium and multipurpose rooms.

The operating cost of the smallest project - the 35,000-square-foot recreation center that Galligan recommends in his report should the council go forward - would be $714,000, according to Galligan’s preliminary pro-formas. The estimated revenue would be $581,000. The end result would be an operating loss of about $133,000. The IRS depreciation and debt service would cost about $380,000 per year.

Galligan used the Mansfield community center, which has a pool, as a base model off of which he worked.

The three versions of the project Galligan presented also did not include the controversial hockey rink proposal. If two indoor hockey rinks are added to the project, then the lease payment, plus the net cost of the recreation project is $1 million per year, Galligan said. The excess revenue from the hockey would lower the cost to about $813,000 per year, according to Galligan.

But even then, Galligan noted that there were other revenue figures that have been presented to the town concerning the hockey rinks. “These proposals make the amount of revenues this facility could generate uncertain,” Galligan wrote.

Based on the discrepancy in the numbers, Galligan requested that a consultant submit requests for proposal to see how much it would cost to operate the rink facility, as well as an indoor pool facility.

Galligan said that this could cause some delay in the the process, something that some members of the youth hockey association in town might not want to hear.

“I do not believe this is something that we should rush into,” Galligan said. “I know that the Youth Hockey Association would like to see it done right away, but it is a substantial project and should be thought out before the Council moves forward with any type of spending.”

What’s more, despite the proposal calling for indoor and outdoor hockey rinks, Galligan said that, after speaking with some experts in the field, that the two rinks - one Olympic size, the other NHL size - should be indoors.

Also, Galligan said that there is a discrepancy between what the youth hockey association says it pays for ice time currently, versus what the South Windsor Arena says the hockey association pays per year.

Galligan said that should the project include the hockey rinks, any contract with the South Windsor Youth Hockey Association, the Hartford Whale or any other team should be three to five year deals that have significant penalties should there be a default on the agreement.

Finally, Galligan said that the owner of the land at Evergreen Walk has not said how much a lease or an outright purchase for the space would cost.

Still, despite these questions, Galligan said that the project would be an “economic stimulus” to the town. Given that there are tough budget choices being made at the federal and state level that figure to impact localities, Galligan said that this year should be a “planning year.

“Every stone should be overturned to make sure that moving forward with any of these programs will be a positive impact to the community,” he wrote.

Toward that end, Galligan said that he is looking for private investors to perhaps take on some portion of the project, like the ice skating rinks. Galligan is also looking into the legalities of splitting the project so that some of it is done by private investors, while other portions are built through the town’s use of a 63-20 corporation.

“I have no qualms about the Town investing in its own recreation center or having myself and Staff running such a center, as that is our forte in Town Government,” Galligan said. “However, I do not know anything about hockey. I strongly feel that the best way to run such a program is a public/private partnership between a private entity that has the experience of running such facilities. … That type of partnership would bring together the expertise of both sides which could make the project successful.”

Still, Galligan urged the council to work together and wait until the requests for proposal came in before any decisions were made.

Bob Feher December 17, 2012 at 12:02 PM
Great Work! We appreciate all the efforts and all agree it makes sense to get all the ducks lined up! Those are inexpensive options, comparatively, terrific!
Ruth Bortolan December 17, 2012 at 05:26 PM
Why would a community center for our kids be put at Evergreen Walk? If the needs of our children are our first priority it would be built in the center of town where they would have access to it. Otherwise our children are being used for the priority of money! That kind of thinking is wrong.
Tom Lines December 17, 2012 at 07:27 PM
Because of the continuing drop in school enrollment, it seems obvious that the town will shortly have to consider the closing of one school. The obvious choice is Wapping School. Wapping has plenty of space for the rec center, inckuding one gym, which, for some shortsighted decision-making, was not included in our current Rec Center. Two more advantages: 1) It could house the School Administration and BOE, who currently operate in a Munster-like Main St. facility; and 2) it would free up the entire Enes center for senior use. Also, my understanding is that the youth hockey club would be contributing a VERY large amount to the costs of a Rink at Evergreen Walk. Lastly, everyone knows that SW has some of the worst and smallest athletic space of any HS in CT. When the school was modified some years ago, there was a perfect opportunity to add a second gym space right next to the current gym. To add on a gym here would be more cost effective, and it would be steps away from Wapping. (running out of space, see next post for continuation.)
Tom Lines December 17, 2012 at 07:28 PM
(Continued from above.....) I love the idea of a new and safe hockey rink, but I believe that is what should go to Evergreen Walk. However, care should be given to making sure this rink is large enough to host tournaments. This would bring more visitors and create more commerce than any of the above. (Several years ago, a large hockey facility was built in Marlboro, Ma, a town similar to SW) The manager of the hotel I stayed at stated that the new facility was directly responsible for over 75,000 hotel room nights a year. That facility is busy for the vast majority of the year. Hotels and restaurants were built, businesses that cater to the hockey clientele opened. Likewise, there is yet another facility in Foxboro, Ma, that has multiple hockey rinks AND basketball courts. They also are doing wonderfully.

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