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City not giving up idea to add ice rink

This drawing shows the proposed expansion of the Runestone Community Center in Alexandria. The new addition is shown on the left side of the drawing. (Rendering provided by JLG Architects)

For the fourth time, the city of Alexandria is seeking state funds to add a third ice rink at the Runestone Community Center.

At its meeting Monday, the Alexandria City Council unanimously voted to submit an application to the Minnesota Department of Management and Budget requesting the expansion to be included in the state Legislature's 2020 bonding bill.

The deadline for applying for the grant is June 14.

As it did for the 2018 bonding bill, the city will work with local legislators and the state budget department to try to get matching funds.

The city is requesting $4.4 million from the state to help pay for an $8.8 million expansion of the RCC. Private funds, raised by groups that use the facility, would cover about half of the remaining amount and the city would provide between $2 million and $2.5 million, most likely through tax abatement bonds.

Members of the Senate's Capital Investment Committee toured the RCC in January 2018, learned about its history, asked questions and found out why the project is needed. The expansion, however, was not included in the 2018 bonding bill.

The competition for state bonds was fierce. Statewide, communities proposed projects totaling about $3 billion.

According to city leaders, a third sheet of ice would help meet a surging demand for ice and dry floor activities in the past 10 to 15 years. It would allow the city to host more hockey tournaments, figure skating competitions, curling events and dry floor uses such as trade shows, concerts, graduations and home shows.

The project would add a third rink area on the southwest side of the facility that could be used for ice and dry floor events.

The resolution of support approved Monday states that the city has determined that the expansion "will make a significant impact on the local and regional economy and provide a benefit to the overall general welfare of the community, region and state."

The resolution also notes that the city has completed pre-design studies that have identified costs of the project.

Al Edenloff

Al Edenloff is the news and opinion page editor for the Echo Press. He was born in Alexandria and lived most of his childhood in Parkers Prairie. He graduated with honors from Moorhead State University with a degree in mass communications, print journalism. He interned at the Echo Press in the summer of 1983 and was hired a year later as a sports reporter. He also worked as a news reporter/photographer. Al is a four-time winner of the Minnesota Newspaper Association's Herman Roe Award, which honors excellence in editorial writing.  

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