Ted Siefer's City Hall: Fate of hockey arena put on ice for time being
In case you haven't heard, a group of local guys, led by John Hebert, a fifth-generation Manchester native and hockey enthusiast, wants to take over the operation of West Side Ice Arena. The move would follow the trend toward public-private partnerships at the city's recreational facilities, namely the McIntyre Ski Area and the Derryfield Country Club's restaurant and event space.The partners, who are calling their venture West Side Renaissance Park, would overhaul the dilapidated arena, adding such amenities as a pro shop, concession area and locker rooms. They want the city to fund the improvements through a $1 million bond. The partners would pay back the loan in installments, and they'd make a $25,000 annual payment to the city.
"Would you be able to go to a bank and be lent $1 million without references?" Gatsas asked.
"I'd like to know where," Gatsas said.
The response came from John Deachman, an attorney and City Hall maven who is a partner in the venture: "In the U.S. Virgin Islands."
Good to know.
The board initially voted, 8-6, against a motion to table the agreement.
There appeared to be enough votes to approve the deal, but not for the $1 million bond, which would require 10 votes.
Deachman liked the idea. "If you have an unfunded contract floating around the city, it's not going to upset us," he said.
The vote was 7-7, and Gatsas, surprisingly, cast the deciding vote in favor of the deal.
But then came a warning from Finance Director Bill Sanders. In approving the agreement, he said, "I believe we have a contractual obligation to provide $1 million" to Renaissance.
"What just happened?" seemed to be the question hanging in the room.
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