Metro district board votes down proposal for ice rink

Board members are looking at other options

Posted 8/6/18

Highlands Ranch Metro District Board of Directors rejected a proposal to pay $10 million to South Suburban Parks and Recreation for an ice rink at its new facility. “The benefits to Highlands Ranch …

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Metro district board votes down proposal for ice rink

Board members are looking at other options

Posted

Highlands Ranch Metro District Board of Directors rejected a proposal to pay $10 million to South Suburban Parks and Recreation for an ice rink at its new facility.

“The benefits to Highlands Ranch were not there for our citizens,” said Vicky Starkey, vice chair of the board.

Board members voted 6-1 against the proposal at a study session on July 24 at the metro district’s building, 62 Plaza Drive. Member Allen Dreher voted to approve the ice rink, emphasizing the need for such an amenity in the community.

“I was very disappointed,” Dreher said. “It was a program that would have allowed more ice time for high school hockey teams, youth hockey and adults.”

The vote also disappointed Kevin Insana, varsity hockey coach for Mountain Vista High School, whose team of about 50 includes players from Highlands Ranch and ThunderRidge high schools. They practice two times a week at 8:50 p.m. and once a week at 6 a.m. at South Suburban Ice Arena in Centennial. The schedule can be tough for parents who drive their players to and from practice, Insana said.

“The hockey population has been growing ever since the Avalanche showed up in 1995,” Insana said of Colorado’s professional hockey team. “The need for ice was there. We could have really used it.”

South Suburban officials declined to comment on metro district’s decision.

South Suburban plans to repurpose its existing 50-year-old facility north of the Streets at SouthGlenn, at 6631 S University Blvd., and build a $50 million facility at Holly and County Line Road in unincorporated Douglas County.

The new site, which can hold a 200,000-square-foot facility, will have two ice rinks, a field house with two synthetic turf fields, gymnasium and administrative offices, according to a presentation from South Suburban executive director Rob Hanna at a June 26 metro district board meeting.

A third ice rink at the facility was in question. If approved, the metro district would have partnered with South Suburban to fund one of three rinks using money from refunded debt, according to Terry Nolan, the metro district’s general manager.

Two years ago, the metro district hired a consulting firm to conduct a study of the need for such an ice rink in Highlands Ranch. The firm determined that one ice rink was needed, which would not have been functional on its own, Nolan said at the June 26 board meeting.

Insana is looking forward to South Suburban’s new facility, he said. Right now, his team competes for ice time with club leagues in the Denver metro area, including Littleton Hockey Association, Colorado Thunderbirds and Arapahoe Warriors Youth Hockey League. Each league has several divisions and teams.

“It would have been extremely beneficial to have that ice,” he said of the third sheet in question.

At the July 24 study session, board members were asked to create a list of options that the money set aside for the ice rink could potentially fund. The list included a senior center; improvements to Fly’n B Park, a fishing pond that sits northeast of Windcrest Community; improvements to the historic park surrounding the Highlands Ranch Mansion; and a fence replacement program for the 42 miles of fence maintained by the metro district.

Resident Jim Lestig was pleased with the board’s decision. A member of the Highlands Ranch Senior Club for eight years, he would rather see the money go towards a senior center.

If he lived in South Suburban’s district, he said, he would have supported the project.

“I saw absolutely no benefits to Highlands Ranch for that kind of expenditure,” Lestig said at a July 31 board meeting. “It’s much better to funnel that money back into the community.”

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