Efforts to build ice rink must proceed without big donation

Garland withdraws $1,000,000

We are in the midst of the hottest days of the summer so it’s the perfect time to be thinking… ice. As in Storms and Pigs, Peewees and Mites. What is the status of an ice rink in the north end of the valley? Will there be a covered rink at this end of the valley any time soon?



The million dollars that local developer Gary Garland offered a few years ago toward a rink is off the table. The town still has a rink on its radar but is starting to look at different options, including an upgrade of the rink at Big Mine Park. The East River Skating Association is still pushing for a rink at the proposed “sports campus” by the Tommy V baseball field.
“I tried to give the valley a two-and-a-half million dollar rink at no cost and all I got was grief,” stated a frustrated Garland. “When we tried to put it in Larkspur, people in Skyland fought us. When we tried to put in Crested Butte South, people fought us. When we tried to put it in town, it felt like people there were fighting us. The million dollars is off the table and I’ll handle the grief.”
Garland explained that as part of his Crested Butte Academy business plan, he had financing set up to build and even operate an ice rink. “That financing is gone now and that’s just part of the economic times,” he said. “We had worked with Bob Piccaro and Bob Gillie at the town and we were ready to set up a lot of open ice time for the locals. I tried but no one wanted it. You wouldn’t believe the grief we took, especially down in Crested Butte South.”
Garland said that while the million dollars is off the table, he lost a quarter million when he put the money down as a deposit on a steel building for the rink. “We put that money down and lost it,” he said. “I was the one who got a wetland donation worth $180,000 to mitigate the town’s wetland issue. That came from a wetland bank in Ohio Creek. I lost about $250,000 on design and soils tests and foundation plans for the Larkspur and Crested Butte South locations, etcetera. It’s all gone.”
“I’m disappointed because people here don’t seem to realize that the hockey rink would be bringing people in for camps and competitions, and that is money for the towns. It seems like people don’t want any growth. It’s a great place to live if you don’t have to make a living here,” Garland said.
Over at the East River Skating Association, board member Bill Coburn said the group is on hold. “We’ve been meeting with the town but we are in a holding pattern at the moment,” he explained. “Overall, the committee still believes we need a rink in town and our position is that we would rather do it right and do it once and put up a new rink over by Tommy V.
“The debate appears whether to move in that direction or put a cover on the Big Mine Park Rink,” Coburn continued. “The problem over at Big Mine is the inadequate lockers, the limited parking, the small space. We think rather than spending money over there, it is possible to put a bare-bones rink on the sports campus by Tommy V field with just a bit more money and then build it up over time.”
The town of Crested Butte is entering its budget time and the potential of the ice rink will be on the agenda. “The town is still working on the wetlands permit with the Army Corps of Engineers on the proposed site by Tommy V,” said Crested Butte building and zoning director Bob Gillie. “As far as we know, it is still in the town mix. There is more than $300,000 earmarked for the ice rink. The town has designated the land. The town has spent considerable money and staff time on the project. This is a public-private partnership and the public part is still in place at this time. But I don’t think it will rollover indefinitely.”
Gillie said the town is starting to look at all the options for a rink. “We want to move hockey ahead in this part of the valley with the resources available to us,” he said. “We are looking at improving all the available sites in town.”
He said it was premature to estimate the cost of putting a roof and boards at the Big Mine Park rink but “the town is starting to look at everything.”

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