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Crookston Times - Crookston, MN
  • Three years after opening, some Crookston Sports Center systems still out of whack

  • Park Board members think it might be time to seek legal advice.
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  •     In January, Crookston Sports Center will officially mark its third year of operation, and yet some of its mechanical systems – including those that regulate the ice and the air temperature – remain a frustrating work in progress.
        The ongoing issues have resulted in complaints about the quality of the ice in all three arenas, the inability of water left after a Zamboni run to melt in a timely fashion on the sheets of ice, and inconsistent air temperatures at various times in the facility.
        At Monday's Park Board meeting, Parks & Recreation Director Scott Riopelle, who manages the CSC, said he continues to have a difficult time getting the engineers and other firms who designed the building and its various mechanical and control systems together at one time to figure out how to solve the problems.
        "I get pretty ticked off every time I get a call about this," Park Board member Larry Brekken said. "We're going on three years and we still don't have this damn thing running right."
        Fellow board member Jim Kujawa agreed, suggesting that the time for playing nice might be over. Taking the necessary next steps could involve, Kujawa and others around the table agreed, contacting City Attorney Chuck Fitzgerald. "Maybe we’re getting to the point where we need to be a little nasty here," Kujawa said.
        Riopelle said some systems that are supposed to run on "auto" are still having to be operated manually, otherwise they shut down. "It's all computerized, so until they get the settings correct, we're SOL, to put it bluntly," he said.
        Board members and various city officials in attendance Monday suggested that the wisest next step might be to contact CSC Project Manager Ron Jasmer of Widseth Smith Nolting & Associates and have him lead the effort to get everyone to the table that needs to be brought to the table. Then everyone can walk through the facility together and figure out how to best remedy the situation.
        If there's any "heat" on Riopelle for the continued performance of the CSC's various mechanical and control systems, Parks & Recreation Supervisor Scott Butt said getting Jasmer or someone else to take the lead on finding solutions might help to ease some of Riopelle’s stress. "He's been busting his hump to get this done," Butt said of Riopelle.
        City Council Member Wayne Melbye, also a park board member, endorsed the possibility of involving the city attorney at this point. "Everyone wants to point fingers at everyone else," he said. "We need to get everyone together and find out who's going to fix it."
    Page 2 of 2 -     Meanwhile, the 2012-13 hockey and figure skating season is almost half over. Asked by board member Michelle Christopherson if he could put a timeframe on when the situation might improve, Riopelle said at this point that's mostly out of his hands because he can't get everyone he needs together to address the situation.
        Melbye agreed that Riopelle is doing everything he can, in as rapid a fashion as he can. "It's been three years, so yes, it's not a quick fix and it sucks," Melbye said. "Do you think he enjoys hearing that his place is no good?"
        Monday's discussion took place three days before what could be the CSC's busiest day of the year, when the Pirate boys' and girls' hockey teams take on their arch-rivals the East Grand Forks Green Wave, on Thursday. The Event Arena stands should be pretty much packed, and various Pirate and Blue Wave alumni hockey players will be honored as well.
        "Will the arena be able to handle the full house?" Blue Line Club member Steve Erickson wondered at Monday's meeting.
        Riopelle said he's confident everything will be OK. It's supposed to be a bit colder outside by then, he added, which he said can only help the situation inside.
        "But we shouldn't have to worry about the weather," Brekken said. "We might as well play outside."

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