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City to renovate Plainsmen

Airdrie City council voted to upgrade the Plainsmen Arena, June 21. The project will include new lobby access on the east side of the building and new change rooms on the north side.

Airdrie City council voted to upgrade the Plainsmen Arena, June 21.

The project will include new lobby access on the east side of the building and new change rooms on the north side. The old lobby and upstairs will be converted into space for community groups.

“If this option is considered, administration would work closely with interested parties to ensure the community space is developed to meet the needs of potential lease partners,” said Michelle Lock, director of community services.

Airdrie currently has three ice surfaces to serve a population of almost 40,000. The city has had the same number of ice surfaces since 1992 when the population was 14,000.

“Growth rates have created significant challenges in maintaining ice service levels,” said Lock.

In the 2010 capital budget, $1.5 million was budgeted for renewal of the ice refrigeration plant and the entire support infrastructure.

“Upon review of the extent of site challenges such as drainage, which is the major contributor to shifting of the pavement around the foundation, which causes heaving and movement of exit doors, arena dasher boards and overhead doors, it is administration’s recommendation that the scope of the work be expanded from the ice plant and support infrastructure to options for improvements to the entire facility,” said Lock.

The approved upgrades are expected to cost about $4 million.

The decision was approved unanimously, but several aldermen were concerned about the loss of the baseball diamond on the site.

Lock said organized baseball groups have not used the diamond for years.

“I am concerned about losing that ball diamond,” said Alderman Fred Burley.

“It may not be used by organized groups, but every time I drive by there, it is full of kids. We may have Chinook Winds (baseball diamonds) opening soon but that is a long way from that community.”

Lock said despite the loss of the diamonds, the renovation would free up more parking and make the area less congested.

“I hate to see the ball diamonds go, but I think the community will be happier with more parking,” said Alderman Marlene Weaver.

“As much as I hate to see it go, progress has to happen and I’m excited to see the other space open up for community groups.”

“This brings the area to the standard of some other communities,” said Alderman Kelly Hegg.

“It changes the location of the door, which is a positive thing because people are now parking and then carrying their heavy equipment around the building to get to the door. It will also make this a true community facility. There will be space for other groups to use and that will honour the Jensen family who donated the land for that purpose years ago.”

Lock also presented an update of the timeline for Genesis Place phase three, which will include two additional ice surfaces.

“The design and engineering phase will take about a year,” she said.

“We plan to do construction tendering from August 2011 to October, when we will award the construction contract. Construction should get underway in November 2011. The projected timeline for construction is between 16 to 18 months.”

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