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Temporary digs approved for hockey set-up

The Wadena city council unanimously approved a motion to allow the Hockey Association and Community Center to construct a temporary hockey set-up on the Community Center site.

The discussion and decision was the longest item on the agenda of Tuesday evening's regular city council meeting. A handful of the Hockey Association Members attended the meeting.

At the start of the meeting, Randy Taggart, spokesman for the Wadena Hockey Association, asked for a permit to build temporary items on the building site and a stipend for some operating costs on the public rink.

Taggart said they had a deadline of 8 p.m. that evening as to whether they would stay in Wadena. "I'm not saying this to pressure the city council. It's just a fact. If we don't have an answer tonight, we've been told that our players were going to sign up with Park Rapids," he said. "If we don't have covered ice next year, we don't have a hockey program."

Taggart said that some items would be donated and labor would be in-kind.

Among the proposed items to be built were a windbreak on the north side, a scoreboard, temporary lighting, Zamboni building and compressor room paid by the Community Center organization, 12-by-40 foot warming house for skaters donated by Kraus-Anderson Construction and temporary bathrooms and concessions area.

Taggart said there were three options to serve for the concessions area.

In Option A, the hockey association would accept an offer of a ranch style house to be placed on the slab and protect the water supply.

Option B would be the use of a trailer by Kraus Construction.

Option C would be to build a structure over the top of the water supply to protect it from freezing.

"The minimum is we need to have a shed over that water supply to keep it from freezing," Taggart said. "If the compressor pipes are tested and usable, we'd like permission to go forward with the purchase of a bubble placed over that slab ... so we can go ahead with some outdoor hockey and preserve the image of Wadena."

John Paulson of the Tri-County Community Center said the life of the cement was 5-10 years, and the refrigeration system had 18-23 years of useful life left.

In September, the city council had passed a 180-day moratorium on building projects on tornado-affected areas of Wadena. City attorney Jeff Pederson said that the intent of the moratorium was to prevent permanent construction, and that clearly temporary construction was acceptable.

"That purpose [of the ordinance] was that things don't get slapped up in this area until the planning process and our ability to study how we want to control that gets determined," Pederson said. "If it's temporary, you gotta make sure you know when it's coming down and who's going to be responsible for taking it down."

"None of this sounds permanent to me," council member Jeanette Baymler said. "Holes and port-a-potties -- I don't think they would ever have that be their whole entire hockey arena."

One of the discussion points was whether or not a house to be used as a shelter on the hockey facility would violate the moratorium, which lists houses under forbidden permanent structures.

Pederson said that a special use permit would be needed for using a house.

Taggart said that the "house" would be used as a temporary shelter rather than as a dwelling.

Wolden asked if the house was a deal breaker, and Hockey Association member George Behl said it would not have to be.

"Who is going to pay for all this, and what is the timeline to be able to get it done?" city council member Toby Pierce said.

Wolden asked who had the money to purchase and install a bubble, and Paulson said that the Community Center could do so.

"I think this is great progress," said city council member Don Niles.

City administrator Brad Swenson gave some engineers' information to Hockey Association members to look over before resuming the meeting.

Niles made a motion to give the City Council's blessing to go forward with temporary building, with financial ramifications to be borne by the Community Center or the Hockey Association. Wolden seconded the motion, clarifying that Niles's motion was for both the dirt practice rink and the arena slab itself.

Niles said they did not have to decide on the house structure issue right away.

At the beginning of the meeting, Taggart said, "I'd like to apologize for any comments I made at the last meeting. I take those back."