Jovial council approves Oval repairs

Last week’s Roseville City Council meeting began with welcome changes in tone as council members were laughing, congratulating city volunteers and staff, and were running ahead of schedule.

"This was incredible news," said City Council Member Amy Ihlan.

City Council members came to the meeting almost directly from a press release where a city committee received a $500,000 check with the promise of another.

Guidant Foundation presented the Friends of the Oval Foundation with the donation, ensuring that the Oval’s chiller problems will be solved. Another $500,000 is going into a challenge grant, and businesses and individuals will be invited to donate money with the promise Guidant would equal donations totaling up to $500,000.

During winter months, the Oval maintains ice outdoors by refrigerating the concrete surface with a chiller system. The system causes ammonia to cool a saltwater mixture. It does this by running brine through 800 small, steel tubes surrounded by ammonia in the chiller system.

When the Oval’s chiller began to lose pressure, tubes were plugged. But city staff quickly learned that plugging tubes was not working; the entire system would need to be re-tubed.

Using a large chunk of the first $500,000 the City Council approved $257,520 in major repairs for the Oval, which is one of the largest refrigerated ice rinks in the world. The repair costs include the base bid of $218,800 to re-tube the system.

The solution on how to repair the Oval was the climactic final moment for the Oval Task Force, a group of volunteers gathered to study the repair needs and operational costs of the facility.

Chairman Jake Jacobson presented the task force’s final report before council approved the repairs.

"The task force has worked towards this goal tonight (last Monday) — the chiller decision," Jacobson said. "We consider this the end of the beginning, not the beginning of the end."

The Oval Task Force presented its final report last week. Included were recommendations for the financial future of the Oval, such as raising rates, including resident and non-resident rates, developing corporate sponsorships and including advertising signage around the facility.

The task force also discussed the aggressive inline skate park, which the Oval offers during non-winter months. Considering the inline skate park "separate" from the Oval itself, the Oval Task Force suggested the city consider a $10,000 contribution to fund the skate park.

"It should be looked at on its own merit," Jacobson said during another report earlier in June.

Council Member Greg Schroeder had an initial concern with accepting the task force’s final report, saying that the donation from Guidant changed some of the recommendations.

Lonnie Brokke, the city’s park and recreation director, emphasized that though the task force would now disband, its momentum would not stop.

"We know our work has just begun," he said.

With the impending dissolution of the task force, the City Council authorized the creation of an Oval advisory group that would oversee the recommendations of the task force.

"This is the end of the task force," Jacobson said, "but certainly other efforts will be going on."

Jacobson explained that the task force members were also members of the Friends of the Oval Foundation, user groups or the Parks and Recreation Committee.

"The task force may come to an end, but everyone here doesn’t leave — they just take on different roles," he said.

The council tabled a decision to vote on the final report as Council Member Tom Kough asked for more time to fully read the lengthy document.

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