Friday, July 24, 2009

Hockey and rodeo just donít mix

Hailey gets design plan that keeps ice rink separate from rodeo grounds

Express Staff Writer

The Hailey rodeo arena will not share space with an ice rink as city officials had hoped. Photo by David N. Seelig

Efforts to build an ice rink under a rodeo arena came to a halt last week in Hailey when architects decided it was too problematic.

The Ketchum-based Ruscitto, Latham, Blanton architectural firm worked for two months to design a hockey rink for the Hailey Ice group inside the historic Hailey Rodeo grounds at the south entrance to town in order to save space on the 3.5-acre, city-owned property.

Architect Michael Bulls presented an alternate plan to the Hailey City Council Monday night that calls for a separate hockey rink on the west side of the property along Main Street. The design was recommended to the council by the Hailey Parks and Lands Board.

A familiar Western mural marks the rodeo grounds, which were built in 1948 and are used primarily by the Sawtooth Rangers to hold its annual summer rodeo. Improvement of the property ranked as the highest priority city development project in a recent citizen satisfaction survey.

The Hailey Skate Park also shares the property and is expected to see an expansion of its beginner and intermediate terrain under the city's plans.

Hailey Ice is a nonprofit organization that has raised enough money in recent years to build a refrigerated ice rink, but is in search of a location.

City officials had hoped they could save space by incorporating the ice rink inside the rodeo arena, but found that transforming the surface from dirt to ice each year would cost about $50,000.

Another problem with the combined designed plan stems from the need for Hailey Ice to build a roof over its rink because snow removal is a major obstacle to using the rink on a regular basis.

The Sawtooth Rangers and the Parks and Lands Board prefer rodeos under the open sky.

Becki Keefer, project coordinator for the Hailey Parks and Lands Board, has spearheaded the effort to gather information on a new master plan for the rodeo grounds at the behest of the City Council.

"The city is committed to finding a home for Hailey Ice and to keeping the Fourth of July Rodeo event going." Keefer said. "We have worked for 10 years to find a home for Hailey Ice. This is the third chosen location. If it doesn't work out, I don't know where they will go."

A public hearing is scheduled for Aug 10 at Hailey City Hall to gather more information on the rodeo grounds design.

The City Council will decide on the final design

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