$80K floor covering isn't being used.

    With the City of Crookston this spring needing to transfer $90,000 into Crookston Sports Center's budget in order to make up for a cash pinch and bridge the gap until around $200,000 in revenue comes in this summer and fall, it might seem like a strange time to be talking about making improvements to the three-year-old facility.

    But at this week's Park Board meeting, potentially investing at some point in improved dehumidification at the CSC and adding improved heating and air conditioning were discussed. Although investing city money wasn't a part of the conversation, it was suggested that officials touch base with the Protecting the Legacy fund that helped add amenities to the CSC to see if anything might be possible at some point.

    Asked previously to look into dehumidification and air conditioning costs, Parks & Recreation Director/CSC Manager Scott Riopelle told board members that there are three dehumidification options ranging in cost from $65,000 to $82,000. With the installation of more piping, he said the project would approach $100,000, and there would be ongoing operating costs as well.

    The dehumidification system would operate in the summer, when warmer air outside leads to higher humidity inside. Asked by board member Mike Tiedemann if the sports center's various systems, specifically, the compressors, would run more efficiently if the air was drier, Riopelle said the compressors wouldn't have to work as hard as they do under the current conditions.

    The topic of heating and cooling has come up now and then mostly because Protecting the Legacy funds were spent, around $80,000 total, on a plastic floor covering that could be placed on top of a sheet of ice in any of the three rinks. It has been used only one time, for Blue Line Club Fun Night last October, and there were complaints afterward that the Event Arena was too cold. Riopelle has said the heating system in the building can't push the temperature past 55 degrees or so.

    Riopelle said he's checked into it, and that better heating and the addition of air conditioning to cool down the facility when necessary for various summer events would cost $80,000 to $85,000.

    If improved heating and the addition of air conditioning isn't a realistic investment anytime soon, Mayor Dave Genereux suggested selling the floor covering and using the money from the sale on something else. "Or maybe we trade it for something we're going to use," he said.

    Board member Michelle Christopherson said she continues to be frustrated by the fact that board members weren't aware of the temperature limitations in the CSC when the floor covering was purchased.

    "We spent $80,000 on something we've used once," she said. "I guess I have a case of buyer's remorse." She echoed the mayor's suggestion that the city shouldn't hold onto the floor covering if conditions at the CSC mean it won't be utilized.

    Genereux suggested bringing Ron Jasmer of Widseth Smith Nolting & Associates, the CSC project manager, back to the table to potentially provide some more clarity on what might be possible, or impossible.

Memorials/displays at CSC
    One thing that won't cost the city any money or put a dent in the CSC budget is the addition of various large photo displays and memorials on the Event Arena's walls.

    The idea has been talked about almost since the facility opened. Efforts ramped up when Paul Eickhof of Eickhof Columbaria, which donated the "Protecting the Legacy" granite plaques in the Event Arena, last year took photos of various photo displays at the Ralph Engelstad Arena in Thief River Falls and brought his ideas to Christopherson, who worked with Parks & Recreation Administrative Assistant Phyllis Hagen on potential specifications and policies.

    This week, Christopherson reported back to the board after meeting with a representative of Indigo Signs. She presented three different sizes for vinyl photo displays, known as Alumacore, that are built to stand up to the elements, include an engraved plaque, and are easy to clean with paper towels and some Windex. They come with a 10-year warranty as well, Christopherson said. The photos are of digital quality, and could be as big as six feet by eight feet, with two smaller size options as well.

    Sponsors, whether they're an individual, family, business or other group, would come up with the estimated $1,800 for the largest display. A typical display would be of a local hockey player who has moved on to play after high school, or who has passed away and is being memorialized.

    Board members liked what they saw and heard, and the next steps will be to iron out more specifics on how the idea will be publicized to those who might want to sponsor a display or memorial. Indigo Signs doesn't work with so-called "jersey boxes," but indicated there are resources available to mount those as well.
Grants delayed
    Each year, Parks & Recreation awards $5,000 in matching grants to various local parks and recreation-related initiatives, and this week Riopelle recommended that three applicants in the latest round of funding be funded. They are:

    • $2,000 for a dugout-shaped shelters to protect dogs and their owners from the elements at the dog park in Castle Park
    • $500 for benches for Walsh Park near the Villa St. Vincent, which is a city park but is maintained by the Villa
    • $1,260 for additions to the nature play space in Castle Park, including rain gutters to capture and move water and a "mud kitchen."

    The board seemed poised to approve the trio of grants, but in light of the budget concerns at the CSC, Genereux suggested delaying the approval of the $3,760 in grants for a few weeks until some funding issues are ironed out.

    "I realize this is not a big number," he said. "I think we could hold off a month without affecting the recipients."