Not the time for a power play

Wednesday, December 11, 2013 - 19:00

The recent power play being used by Anchorage Mayor Dan Sullivan is leaving Eagle River’s hockey community shorthanded.

It’s no secret the aging Municipal ice rinks — the McDonald Center included — are in need of upgrades. All four are between 30 and 40 years old. For a rink, that’s well past the average lifespan of 20 to 25 years, according to Mac manager Reid McDonald.

But those buildings are taking a back seat to an indoor tennis court facility the mayor is adamant on building.

In the original capital budget, $4.5 million was allocated to upgrade the Mac’s Freon-based refrigeration system. The funds are still there, but in terms of starting the upgrade process, no progress has bee made.

This isn’t an easy project. If a rink is going to overhaul its refrigeration system, bids to contractors need to go out now.

Plans need to be hashed out. Contingencies need to be made should construction take longer than estimated.

And the rinks don’t have time to waste.

Currently, there’s a Freon leak at the Mac. Though it’s confined and non-toxic at this point, how much more of a sign does Sullivan need?

This summer, the Mac shut down for several weeks after a faulty valve was locked, which allowed too much oil to flow to the compressor. Fortunately, a maintenance worker at Sullivan Arena bailed the Eagle River facility out and found a part to fix the problem.

The Mac was extremely lucky. That won’t be the case much longer.

Sullivan has made it clear the Mac won’t see a dime until his tennis courts receive funding. Now is not the time to play politics. If the Mac — or any other Muni rink for that matter — shut down tomorrow, the hockey community would be in serious trouble. It’s a popular sport with limited facilities — especially in Eagle River where the Mac has the only indoor ice.

The tennis community would love to have a new facility. Who wouldn’t? There are countless groups lobbying for funding every year.

But this isn’t a hockey-versus-tennis issue. It’s about upkeep on existing rinks versus Sullivan’s desire to build a brand new facility. His want shouldn’t outweigh the community’s need.

It’s simple. The rinks already exist. The courts don’t. Expansion is great, but it shouldn’t come at the cost of letting our ice rinks fall into disrepair.


Send in your letters to Santa

Christmas is just two weeks away. And you won’t get what’s on your wish list without writing it.

Lucky for all local children, Santa is an avid reader of the Chugiak-Eagle River Star.

To make sure Santa has a chance to review last-minute changes to your list, send them in to the Star to be printed in our Letters to Santa section. Letters must be dropped off at the Star office located at 11401 Old Glenn Highway, suite 105 in Eagle River by Monday, Dec. 16. Letters can also be emailed to [email protected].

If we’re not in the office, put your letter through our mail slot. Letters will be published in the Dec. 19 edition of the Star — giving Santa just enough time to read them before his busiest night of the year.

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