The Goleta City Council agreed unanimously Tuesday night to waive $283,875 in development fees and all parks fees for the Ice in Paradise project.
The transportation mitigation impact fees for projects can be reduced by 75 percent if the project is deemed beneficial, which the ice rink is, Public Works Department director Steve Wagner said. Since the project is a recreational facility, the city won’t be charging parks fees.
The two-story building is planned for the lot next to Girsh Park on Santa Felicia Drive and will be operated by the nonprofit organization spearheading the fundraising effort, the Greater Santa Barbara Ice Skating Association.
It will have one full rink and one half-sheet rink, and the GSBISA plans to offer dressing rooms, food concessions, sports shop, rentals, a homework room with computer access, adaptive programs for mobility-impaired athletes, broomball, curling, lessons for figure skating and hockey, space for private functions, and sport leagues.
The GSBISA will owe Goleta $94,625 in transportation impact fees after the 75 percent reduction.
Council members voted Tuesday to use undesignated money from the general fund reserves to substitute for the loss of those fees. Goleta has already pledged $250,000, most likely in grant form, to purchase operational equipment for the project, and the GSBISA may come back to ask for more — raising concern for Councilman Jim Farr.
“If it comes to pass as envisioned, it will be a huge benefit — it’s just a questions of how much do we throw into the pot,” he said.
He said he also worried about the city being on the hook to help with operational expenses in the future if the rink cannot be profitable.
“At the back of my mind there’s a lurking fear, if you will, that with any shortfall, eventually the people who are putting this effort together are going to come to the City of Goleta,” he said.
He noted that with the $250,000 contribution, fee waivers and the potential of another $250,000 in support, the city would end up putting in $1 million for the rink.
However, the council agreed that the project would be a real community asset, and members unanimously approved the fee waivers.
Mayor Roger Aceves said recreation is at the top of the council’s priority list, and that the fee waiver to help this project was the right thing to do.
Councilman Ed Easton said the rink would be something that people ages 12 to 20 could all do together, and the city doesn’t have any place in town for that to happen now.
Councilman Michael Bennett said UCSB students already spend most of their money in Goleta, but the city doesn’t give back much in terms of activities, adding that the rink would also bring in money from families and, hopefully, people from nearby cities.
“If we build it, they will come, and spend even more money in our community,” Bennett said.
The GSBISA expects the project to cost $10 million to build — not including the land, which was gifted by Camino Real Marketplace developer Wynmark Company, which also developed Girsh Park.
Mark Linehan, president of Wynmark Company, spoke in support of the fee waivers at Tuesday’s meeting. He asked the council what is more beneficial to the community than a nonprofit recreation facility.
“I was willing to donate the land, they raised almost $6 million for it and all you have to do is step up (and waive the fees),” he said.
GSBISA chair Parker Anderson said that more than $700,000 of the project cost will be in fees, even with the discount at Goleta.
He vowed that they wouldn’t be back asking for operational money. The business plan has the rink profitable enough to pay all its expenses from user fees, and pay off the debt they expect to incur during the construction process.
Through the capital campaign — made up of mostly larger donors and pledges so far, but will open up to the community soon — the GSBISA needs to raise $6 million to start construction and plans to get $4 million in debt. Anderson said the detailed business operation plan outlines paying expenses and paying off the debt fairly quickly.
The group has raised close to $5 million and expects to pull its building permit within two months.
As a nonprofit, it can operate more economically — with tax exemptions, among other things — and will pass those savings onto the public with affordable skating and rental rates, he said after Tuesday’s meeting.
The GSBISA hopes that going to the rink will cost about the same as a movie and box of popcorn, and will have various discount programs and scholarships available, Anderson said.
“This Goleta City Council meeting gives us a lot of credibility and motivation,” he said.
Students in UCSB’s Ice Skating Club and members of the Oxnard-based Riptide Hockey club asked the council to support the fee waivers.
UCSB senior Sarah Feldman said the club, which she founded in 2010, has more than 150 active members and a lot of interest, despite the 40-mile drive to Oxnard’s rink.
She said she been figure skating since she could walk and is thrilled there will be a rink close to campus in the future, even if she’ll have graduated by the time it’s finished.
Santa Barbara members of the Riptide youth hockey club — all former roller hockey players who have since fallen in love with playing on ice — also asked council members to approve the fee waivers. They said they make the long drive to Oxnard several times a week, and having a rink nearby would be a great resource for them and other skaters.
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Later at Tuesday’s meeting, the council voted to purchase the property at 170 S. Kellogg Ave. from the Redevelopment Agency’s successor agency.
The land at Hollister and Kellogg avenues is planned for a city park and was purchased in 2011 for about $2.6 million jointly by the city and RDA. There’s been a lot of council support for a park in Old Town Goleta over the years.
The council voted 3-1 on Tuesday to support a resolution of intent to purchase the property from the RDA’s successor agency, for the amount provided by the former RDA at the time of the original purchase — about $1.1 million.
In sifting through RDA properties after dissolution, the state Department of Finance didn’t approve a transfer of the RDA’s interest of the park to the city, according to the staff report.
Mayor Aceves dissented, saying he was no more comfortable now than he was then in paying above the land’s appraised value. He also raised concerns about the land not being zoned for a park and not having General Plan changes for the park.
“It puts us in a very tedious position, but it’s up to the DOF,” Aceves said.
The issue will go back to the Department of Finance in the form of Goleta’s Long Range Property Management Plan for former RDA properties.
The council also approved the draft of the Integrated Waste Management Ordinance, which specifies new state recycling requirements and includes details from the new citywide trash agreement with MarBorg Industries, which was enacted in April 2011. The city’s solid waste ordinance hasn’t been altered since incorporation, according to environmental services coordinator Everett King.
— Noozhawk staff writer Giana Magnoli can be reached at email@example.com. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.