| Jun 30, 2005


Feature article, June 23, 2005

Feature article June 30, 2005

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North Frontenac Arena Expansion plans

by Jeff Green

Thirteen months ago representatives from the expansion committee of the North Frontenac Arena came to Central and South Frontenac Councils with an ambitious plan to upgrade the arena and develop a community centre and banquet facility as well. The plan was nicknamed Project End Zone. Both Councils extended their approval in principle for the plans, and the committee went off and did some further study.

This week, Laurence Villalta, OPP Constable Bill Robinson and Arena Manager Jim Stinson were back, presenting a Business Plan for construction of a scaled-back renovation.

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As Laurence Villalta explained, the committee did extensive costing work on all aspects of the original proposal, and have come to the conclusion that building a 38 ft by 100 ft. one-storey extension at the west end of the arena, to accommodate new and larger change rooms and showers, is the way to proceed. The best estimate as to the cost of this renovation is $430,000.

The initial plan was to build a second storey onto the extension for a banquet hall, but the cost was prohibitive. Thought was given to building the one- storey addition with provisions for putting on a second storey at a later date, but that would add $100,000 to the project, said Villalta.

Instead of that, the committee proposes to tear out the existing bleachers, which are at the end of their life cycle, and renovate the existing second storey that is behind the bleachers. I would rather see an existing space made more functional that put money into a potential future use, Villalta said.

The committee proposes to fundraise for the $430,000, and will be asking South and Central Frontenac Councils to approve using existing arena reserve funds for the $68,000 renovations to the bleachers and the existing second storey.

While the committee has taken a full year to get from the initial conception stage to this business plan stage, things are expected to move quickly from here. Two well-known individuals, former Limestone School Board Superintendent Jack Fox and former South Frontenac Mayor Phil Leonard, have agreed to come on as co-chairs of the fundraising committee. The planning committee is also planning to apply for a $75,000 Trillium grant for renovations to the existing change rooms, a $25,000 grant from the Bell Canada Community Sports fund, and a $5,000 grant from Domtar Incorporated.

If we have raised 50% of the money by next spring, we plan to go ahead with the groundbreaking, Villalta said.

The committee hopes to have the renovations completed when the Arena opens in the fall of 2006, coinciding with its 30th anniversary.

In expressing their support in principle for Project End Zone, Central Frontenac councillors said it is high time the arena is improved.

The arena is an important facility in the life of the surrounding community, said Councillor Bob Harvey, after 30 years its time to do something with it.

Mayor Bill MacDonald also expressed support, and he offered up a novel way to fund the entire project.

You have Phil Leonard on board, he said of his former political colleague, perhaps he could just fund this on his own.

The arena has seen many changes in the 30 years it has been operating. Among them is the advent of girls and womens hockey, which have led to ever- increasing use of the ice, and increased demand for change rooms and other facilities.

It is funded by Central Frontenac and by the districts of Bedford and Portland in South Frontenac. Storrington and Loughborough districts contribute a fee per district resident that plays hockey with the North Frontenac Minor Hockey Association and the Frontenac Girls Minor Hockey Association.

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