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Farmington Youth Hockey Association will pitch in for Schmitz-Maki Ice Arena costs

Some might say money talks. And in this case, the Farmington City Council likes what the Farmington Youth Hockey Association has to say.

On Monday, council members will be asked to sign an agreement with FYHA that guarantees the hockey club will donate $10,000 annually for the next 10 years. In exchange, FYHA gets bumped closer to the top of the list for premium ice time.

Final details of the agreement are being worked out, city administrator David McKnight said, but it is scheduled to go before council members next week. FYHA past president Tom Flanagan was at the April 2 council meeting and shared the terms and the reasoning for FYHA's contribution. Basically, it comes down to how much premium ice time the program will receive in the future.

"It would be city programs, high school, then us, so that gains us six to eight hours of prime ice every week over the season," Flanagan said.

The annual $10,000 contribution will be put toward operation and repair of the ice arena, according to Farmington parks and recreation director Randy Distad. It's a commitment that could lead to improvements that would allow the Schmitz-Maki Ice Arena to have summer ice.


Farmington tried to have summer ice for three weeks last year. It was something new, tried after a new ice making system had been installed the previous summer and fall. That ice system works fine. What didn't work for the city, though, was Mother Nature.

Over the three weeks of summer ice time, the weather was extremely hot and humid, McKnight said. Because the ice arena does not have a dehumidification system to remove the humid air from inside the rink while ice is down, the humidity was trapped inside the building. That caused mold to grow inside the arena and made conditions inside uncomfortable. To solve the problem, the city rented heaters to remove that humidity, then hired someone to come in and remove the mold. All told, summer ice ended up costing the city $3,000.

McKnight discouraged running summer ice until a dehumidification system can be installed, but that system does not come cheap. According to Distad, infrastructure to support a dehumidification system was installed when the upgrades were made to the arena two years ago, but the system itself was estimated to cost $280,000. Council members chose not to install the system based on the cost.

Installation of the new ice system came in at $81,745 less than anticipated, so that money was relocated to the debt service fund. Now, council members are considering relocating that money again, this time back to the arena capital projects fund so it could be used for arena improvements, possibly including a dehumidification system.

At the April 2 meeting, council members discussed the transfer, then talked about how the agreement with FYHA could help to cover the cost of installing a dehumidification system. At the same time, council directed staff to ask the Farmington School District whether it would also be willing to make a contribution to the project.

"If, between the hockey association and the school district, they could come up with the difference, I would be interested in using these funds to help get the dehumidification system in," council member Christy Jo Fogarty said.

Michelle Leonard

Michelle Leonard joined the Woodbury Bulletin staff in November, 2014, after 14 years covering news for the Bulletin's sister publication, the Farmington Rosemount Independent Town Pages.  Michelle earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Mass Communications: News-Editorial from Mankato State University in 1991. She is an active member of the American Legion Auxiliary Clifford Larson Unit 189 of Farmington, and served as the 2014-15 Third District President to the American Legion Auxiliary Department of Minnesota. Michelle is also the volunteer coordinator for the Minnesota Newspaper Museum which is open annually during the Minnesota State Fair. She has earned Minnesota Newspaper Association awards in Investigative Reporting, Local News Coverage, Feature Photography and Column Writing. 

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