Bowie officials to decide on future of indoor sports facility

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On Monday night, the Bowie City council is scheduled to re-examine its options going forward with the city's

On Monday night, the Bowie City council is scheduled to re-examine its options going forward with the city's long-planned indoor sports and recreational facility.

The city's initial plans called for a facility with a pair of ice rinks and room for five indoor basketball/volleyball courts. As outside assessment of the growing city's recreational needs several years ago indicated more courts and ice space were needed.

But the future of the project became an issue in the spring when architects hired to plan the project told city officials that the endeavor would cost between $36 million and $38 million. Initially, the city had budgeted $23.7 million for construction costs in the FY 2018 budget.

Faced with higher costs than expected, city officials suggested a number of potential options for proceeding, then voted to delay any final decision on how to go forward until September. In the interim, members of the city staff were asked to come up with what they viewed as the best option.

Back in June, the option endorsed by the city staff involved reducing the size of the project from five indoor courts and two new ice rinks to something smaller and moving the facility to a more central location in the city, such as Glen Allen Park.

bowie-officials-to-decide-on-future-of-indoor-sports-facility photo 1 John McNamara

Six weeks after Bowie residents voiced outrage over the possibility that a high-speed, Washington-to-Baltimore train might run through the city, they delivered their message again Tuesday night.

Nearly 300 people turned out to hear representatives from the Maryland Department of Transportation,...

Six weeks after Bowie residents voiced outrage over the possibility that a high-speed, Washington-to-Baltimore train might run through the city, they delivered their message again Tuesday night.

Nearly 300 people turned out to hear representatives from the Maryland Department of Transportation,...

(John McNamara)

Another option involved assessing the maintenance costs of keeping the 46-year-old Bowie Ice Arena up and running for several more years. That option also involved assessing the possibility of adding a second ice rink at Allen Pond Park next to the current rink.

“We’ve asked them (architects) to give us a like-new assessment to bring it up to where it could last another 40 years. We'll see what that’s going to be, because we just don't know,” city manager Alfred Lott said.

Maintenance costs for the ice arena continue to be a concern. The facility opened about three weeks late this summer because of the failure of a compressor and then a sensor in one of the cooling towers. The mechanical failures rendered the arena equipment unable to make ice; repairs cost the city about $25,000.

bowie-officials-to-decide-on-future-of-indoor-sports-facility photo 2 John McNamara

County school officials expect the new artificial turf field at Bowie High School to be ready in early October and expect lighting to be installed and operational sometime before the end of the next month.

Officials made the announcement during a meeting at Bowie High School co-sponosred by District...

County school officials expect the new artificial turf field at Bowie High School to be ready in early October and expect lighting to be installed and operational sometime before the end of the next month.

Officials made the announcement during a meeting at Bowie High School co-sponosred by District...

(John McNamara)

“I think there’s a merit to both arguments,” said Bowie Mayor G. Frederick Robinson. “Personally, I would like us to move forward with the reduced size (facility).

“We’ve got to replace the ice rink. The current ice rink is in such a condition that it would cost us millions of dollars to keep it open. I hate to spend money in that regard that I’m not going to recover. I would hope they would vote to move forward with some kind of replacement ice rink, whether we do it with one sheet that could be added on at a later date and a couple of courts with more that could be added at a later date.”

The other option involves putting the question to residents in the form of a ballot referendum. That would involve either setting up a special election to decide the matter, or waiting until the next round of city elections in 2019.

According to a June memo from Lott to the council, a facility with three indoor courts (instead of five) and one ice rink (as opposed to two) would cost $23 million. A facility with two new ice rinks and no courts would run $24.4 million. A facility with five news courts and no new ice would cost about $16.5 million.

“Let’s reduce the size because the (financial) numbers are just beyond anything that’s acceptable,” Robinson said. “We’re going to have to retrench a little bit. Whether it’s two, or three, or four basketball courts – at least it puts future councils on a platform they can continue to build on.”

Lott believes the city will be better served if the new facility – no matter how big it is – is built in a location that is more central to the city, such as Glen Allen Park.

The city purchased land for the project last spring, paying $210,000 for a 20-acre parcel on Church Road near Freeway Airport – outside the city limits. Lott believes a more central location would be a greater benefit for the city because teams and parents coming to town for tournament would be more likely to spend money at city restaurants and hotels.

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Article Bowie officials to decide on future of indoor sports facility compiled by Original article here

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