MANCHESTER — After a long and charged debate, the Board of Mayor and Aldermen Tuesday voted to table a plan to place the management of the West Side Ice Arena in private hands and to fund a $1 million overhaul of the facility.
A narrow majority of the aldermen appeared supportive of the plan, in which a group of local business partners would partner with Manchester Regional Youth Hockey Association (MRYHA) to improve the facility. The city would retain ownership of the arena and fund the improvements through a loan to the business partners, doing business as West Side Renaissance Park, Inc.
But there weren’t enough votes to support the $1 million bond, which would have required 10 votes.
Mayor Ted Gatsas said he didn’t think the business partners had been forthcoming enough about their background and financial wherewithal.
“I don’t know a lending institution under the sun that would lend anyone $1 million without seeing a financial statement,” he said.
Other aldermen, however, were impressed that the group, led by John Hebert, a Manchester native and hockey enthusiast, had stepped up to revive the facility.
“The people sitting here ... have a plan to regenerate youth hockey and bring it back in Manchester,” Ward 3 Alderman Pat Long said. “Our choice is ‘Do we want hockey back in Manchester or not?’ There’s a risk in anything we’re going to do.”
The aldermen intend to hold a special meeting later this month; several aldermen said they were hopeful their concerns could be addressed by then.