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Many options on the table for ice arena

It's too soon to say if Farmington ice skaters will get a second sheet of ice to skate on any time soon, or if the current Schmitz-Maki Arena will be deemed good enough for now. But at least there's a core group of people weighing options.

The ice facility task force started meeting last Wednesday. The group -- comprising two city staffers, a member of the city's parks and recreation commission, three school district staff members, three representatives from the Farmington Youth Hockey Association and two community members, as well as a facilitator -- has been charged with identifying the community's ice needs, and coming up with a plan to meet those needs.

The first session, said Farmington city administrator Peter Herlofsky, was an opportunity time to hear what some of the options are, and have "some open, unbridled discussion regarding the options available."

As a member of the task force, Herlofsky cautions that it is far too early to know what is going to happen with the current arena. For the time being, the city is moving ahead with its original plan to replace the sheet of ice and the equipment that makes that ice happen. By the end of January, he said, the city hopes to have received some design documents for the floor. Once those are in hand, they can put the project out for bid to see how much renovating the current facility will cost.

But that's not the task force's focus. Instead, the task force will use the next few weeks to look at options for the current site and, perhaps, for another arena at another site in the city.

Does that mean a second sheet of ice could be in Farmington's future?

"In most of the conversations I've had with the Farmington youth hockey people, they contend a second sheet of ice is needed, so yes, that's been brought up," Herlofsky said.

In late December, Herlofsky and Farmington parks and recreation director Randy Distad met with an anonymous outside party that was interested in helping the city build a new ice arena in the community. It was a "very premature" discussion, Herlofsky said, adding that city staff has not met with that outside group again.

The task force was scheduled to meet this week Wednesday, and next week as well.

"We talked about everything we could think of regarding the ice rink," Herlofsky said of the first task force meting. "The purpose for the next couple of days is to focus on some of those options."

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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