The Goleta City Council voted unanimously Tuesday to allocate $250,000 toward the building fund for a new ice rink in the city.
Officials from the Greater Santa Barbara Ice Skating Association went before the council to request funding for the capital project. Though the group initially asked for $500,000 from the city, the council settled for a more conservative gift of $250,000 — cash it says it has access to now, instead of a larger pledge that would rely on money from completed projects in the future.
With Tuesday’s pledge, the GSBISA has raised nearly $4 million of the $8 million needed to complete the project proposed for Girsh Park in Goleta. The group hopes to break ground when it reaches $5 million.
“We’re thrilled,” GSBISA President Kathy Mintzer told Noozhawk after the council’s decision. “They showed that they believe in the project.”
The GSBISA has already secured the land and developed an initial drawing that received conceptual approval, and is in the bid process now for construction.
The association hopes to complete the design process by early 2012, with the rink opening in 2013. Once built, user fees would cover operating costs and the rink’s nonprofit status would allow it to keep user fees low. The group also plans to make the rink the only one west of the Mississippi suitable to adaptive sports so that disabled people can participate in ice sports such as sled hockey.
The city could have as much as $1.5 million coming in from development impact fees for projects in the pipeline, but that cash is not yet in hand, which raised concern among some of the council members.
Much of Tuesday’s discussion centered on whether the city could use developer impact fees, money paid by developers to offset the impacts of construction projects, toward the ice rink. City Attorney Tim Giles said the fees could be used for the facility as long as it is available to the public.
Mayor Margaret Connell expressed concern that the rink should be open to the public as much as possible, and Mintzer said a sample schedule is already up on the group’s website.
“Every single day there are public skating sessions,” she said. “It’s fun, and we want everyone to be able to experience that.”
Councilman Roger Aceves initially had reservations about giving his approval for the funding.
“This is a good project,” he told the applicants. “My concern is spending money that we don’t have.”
Aceves reminded the council of promises made from other developers, and when projects weren’t built, the fees never materialized. He said he could support a lower amount based on existing funds.
Councilman Michael Bennett, who is on the GSBISA’s informal committee Champions of the Ice, suggested that the council give the $250,000 it had access to and commit the rest when it became available.
Councilman Ed Easton lauded the project and encouraged the city to pledge $250,000 in cash and $250,000 in the future.
“Fundraising is a matter of creating momentum,” he said. “I’d like the city to help that instead of looking at it with a jaundiced eye.”
But Councilwoman Paula Perrotte said she couldn’t support a pledge.
“Other things may come up and we may need it,” she said. “I think the ice rink should come back and we can see where we’re at at a later time.”
After the council voted to give the $250,000, Connell thanked the GSBISA and wished them well with the capital campaign.
“Good luck, and we’ll see what we may be able to do later,” she said.