Plan to shift ice-skating rink to pool site backed

JESSICA MADDOCK
Last updated 05:00 05/02/2013

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A proposal to relocate Alexandra's ice-skating rink to Molyneux Park to share facilities with the town's swimming pool has attracted initial support from the Vincent Community Board.

The electricity bills for the Olympic-sized rink, owned by IceInLine, and the pool, which belongs to the Central Otago District Council, are high and placing the facilities side by side is expected to result in large savings.

The council's infrastructure services manager, Jon Kingsford, told the board the heat generated during the production of ice for the rink could be used to heat the pool.

The greatest savings would be in winter when, at present, an inefficient heating system was used to maintain the pool's temperature, at a time when the demand for electricity was already high.

The two facilities would also share an electricity network connection, removing the duplication of costly line charges.

The development is estimated to cost about $1.5 million and the amount the community board granted would be "at its discretion".

The board yesterday approved the initiative "in principle" and gave council staff permission to have the business case, the estimated electricity savings and the payback period reviewed by experts. Funding for the review would be sought from charitable organisations such as the Central Lakes Trust.

Mr Kingsford said a community board grant towards the project could be funded by a 21-year loan.

The board spent $479,000 on electricity during the 2011/12 year, 43 per cent of which was at the aquatic centre.

Business and Economic Research Ltd had advised Local Government New Zealand that energy costs were anticipated to increase by at least 7 per cent a year during the next decade, meaning the pool's energy costs could double over that time and then continue to increase.

The savings the council and club made on electricity during the loan period would be sufficient to service a debt of up to $1.5m, Mr Kingsford said.

But the proposal was not without risk, with the potential for loan interest rates to rise above 7 per cent and for electricity price hikes to be lower than anticipated among them.

IceInLine's financial viability and committing to a high-cost project during the current economic climate were other factors the board would need to consider.

IceInLine was already planning a $2.6m upgrade of its outdoor rink, to enable it to operate for more than 90 days a year.

The upgrade would include enclosing the rink, improving the changing areas and toilets, providing spectator seating and replacing plant.

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Relocating the rink would also provide an opportunity to create a recreational hub at Molyneux Park, where a gymnasium, physiotherapist, creche and cafe could be established, Mr Kingsford said.

- The Southland Times

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