Topics include an ‘ice trail’ in Central Park, adding dehumidification to CSC’s Event Arena

    Crookston City Council members had plenty of suggestions, ideas and other kinds of feedback and reactions this week as Parks & Recreation Director Scott Riopelle led them line item by line item and page by page through his department’s proposed budget for 2018.

    Some highlights…

    • Council members suggested putting up a recreational skating rink, with no hockey dasher boards, at Town Square. Riopelle said such a rink existed two years ago at the square, but it was clear several council members were unaware of that. “Did anyone else even know about it?” Ward 6 Council Member Tom Vedbraaten wondered.

    “I think there was a bit of usage; we couldn’t tell exactly because there was no staff there, but there were skate marks on the ice,” Riopelle said.

    Lighting from the street and Town Square Pavilion is sufficient for such a rink, he added.

    To the suggestion by Ward 5 Council Member Dale Stainbrook that a skating rink would be better in Central Park because it’s better protected from the wind, Riopelle said there has been talk of putting an “ice trail” in Central Park that meanders around through the trees and other park spaces that people could ice-skate on. Such ice trails are kind of the rage right now in other cold-weather communities. Riopelle said it would be six to eight feet wide, and could be cleaned by a Zamboni, snow-sweeper or snowblower, or whatever the conditions require.

    “These are all over the place and people use them,” Riopelle said.

    Concluding it wouldn’t be a major expense, council members told Riopelle to keep looking into the possibilities.

    • The golf simulator purchased with Protecting the Legacy dollars shortly after Crookston Sports Center opened continues to be under-utilized, so Mayor Wayne Melbye wondered if it would be worth it to partner with a bar or some other business that could run it, generate more use, and give the City a cut of the proceeds. Or, the mayor added, maybe the City should just sell it outright and return the sale revenue to the Protecting the Legacy fund.

    “This is the second year it’s generated basically nothing,” Melbye said. “If we’re not going to use it, there’s no sense in letting it just sit out there.”

    City Administrator Shannon Stassen said Pirate and Golden Eagle golf teams use it, but he acknowledged it’s not generating revenue.

    Riopelle said he’ll further research the City’s options with the simulator.

    • The mayor wondered if some screening could be added to the overhead doors at Crookston Sports Center so that when they’re opened to let some fresh air in during the summer birds and bugs don’t fly in.

    Riopelle said he’d look into it.

    “We do get a bird in there every now and then and you can’t get them out; nothing you do will shoo them all the way out the door,” he said. “You have to wait for them to drop, unfortunately.”

    • On the subject of the CSC, At Large Council Member Bob Quanrud wondered what, if anything, was becoming of the council’s discussion earlier this summer about possibly pursuing a dehumidification unit for the CSC’s Event Arena. The Blue Arena, which hosts off-season hockey tournaments, had a dehumidification unit installed a couple years ago for around $100,000 to reduce condensation and improve air circulation.

    “I thought we kind of agreed to do this,” Quanrud said.

    That wasn’t Riopelle’s understanding. He said providing dehumidification to the larger Even Arena space would likely cost significantly more than the Blue Arena. “We’re talking about hundreds of thousands of dollars,” he said.

    “My point is that we talked about it, there was interest, and I haven’t heard a word about it since,” Quanrud replied.

    Ward 1 Council Member Jake Fee added that it would be “nice to show off” the Event Arena more with off-season hockey tournaments.

    At Large Council Member Bobby Baird endorsed looking into making the investment, saying that equipment and other steel materials in the CSC are starting to rust from condensation, and the facility is only seven years old.

    Ward 5 Council Member Dale Stainbrook endorsed proceeding with caution, saying that the crowds for off-season hockey tournaments are pretty small, and that he doesn’t see a payback.

    Melbye asked Riopelle to look into some cost estimates. The main contractor, in Michigan, that had the contract for the Blue Arena’s dehumidification system sub-contracted its installation to Proulx Refrigeration of Crookston, Riopelle said, so he said he’ll check back with the same firm to get some cost estimates.

    Vedbraaten said it might be worth setting some money aside in the budget for a couple years to put toward such a system.

    “We want to find out if the cost is out of this world, and if it is, we’ll move on,” the mayor said.

    • Riopelle said he’s looking into purchasing a pickup or small flat-bed truck so two trucks can handle watering duties in town. With the hanging flower baskets and other greenery popping up around town as part of beautification efforts, he said watering needs to become more efficient.

    “We have added a lot of watering; it’s significant,” Stassen added.

    Note: The condition of some Parks & Recreation out-buildings and, specifically, “The Hut” at Highland Complex, came under a bit of fire during the Parks & Recreation budget discussions. Read more about that in Thursday’s Times.