Time to move up town

Big break­away for Har­bour Grace

The Compass - - P2011ORTHTE - BY BILL BOW­MAN

Har­bour Grace got a big break­away last week. The town is get­ting a new arena.

The new fa­cil­ity will re­place the ag­ing (53year-old) S.W. Moores Me­mo­rial Sta­dium.

While Har­bour Grace was one of three New­found­land towns where up to $21 mil­lion have been made avail­able for such recre­ation fa­cil­i­ties, Mayor Don Coombs told The Com­pass last week he ex­pects the new arena for the town will run be­tween $12 mil­lion and $15 mil­lion.

It will be built in the west end of town on a par­cel of land at the cor­ner of Har­vey Street West and Jamie’s Way. Coombs said the land, which is pri­vately owned, has a For Sale sign on it.

The mayor said the town’s pre­ferred site has also been ap­proved by the provin­cial gov­ern­ment.

Aside from be­ing ac­ces­si­ble to res­i­dents from all over Con­cep­tion Bay North via Vet­er­ans Me­mo­rial High­way, Coombs pointed out it will al­low for more park­ing. That’s been one of the is­sues with the cur­rent sta­dium site.

“ You can’t get a place to park,” Coombs said, point­ing out the sta­dium yard only holds ap­prox­i­mately a hun­dred ve­hi­cles.

“Even when mi­nor hockey tour­na­ments are held here, (Ban­ner­man Street) is blocked.” And when the CBN CeeBee Stars are host­ing vis­it­ing teams in the se­nior league, “they’re parked ev­ery­where - up and down Har­vey and Wa­ter Streets,” the mayor noted.

“It’s time to move up.”

New and old

The new 5,700-square-me­tre arena will in­clude a 200 by 85-foot ice sur­face. The ice sur­face at S.W. Moores mea­sures 190 by 85 feet.

While the town’s orig­i­nal pro­posal called for a 1,200-seat arena, Coombs said that would be a dream come true. But, ac­cord­ing to the mayor it is re­ally too early to tell how many seats the new fa­cil­ity will have, ex­cept to say it will be a min­i­mum of around 900.

What­ever the num­bers, Coombs was quick to add, “they will all be mod­ern, com­fort­able seats, and the new fa­cil­ity will have emis­sion con­trols and be user friendly.”

It will also in­clude a walk­ing track and com­mu­nity meet­ing room, sim­i­lar to the multi-pur­pose room on the sec­ond floor of the S.W. Moores Sta­dium.

An ice-resur­facer room, can­teen, first-aid room, pub­lic wash­rooms, ticket booth and fa­cil­ity sup­port space will be in­cluded. It will also have change rooms with wash­rooms and show­ers, sup­port fa­cil­i­ties for mi­nor hockey and fig­ure skat­ing.

The town’s orig­i­nal am­bi­tious pro­posal had called for the new arena to house the town hall and coun­cil cham­bers. But Mayor Coombs con­firmed the town hall will not be part of the new plans.

Coun­cil also wanted the new fa­cil­ity to be de­signed to al­low for fu­ture ex­pan­sion to ac­com­mo­date other sports such as bowling and curl­ing, a sport miss­ing from the town since the clo­sure of the old CBN Curl­ing Club.

Still not rul­ing out that pos­si­bil­ity, Coombs said, “we’ll look at it all when we sit down with

our en­gi­neers and gov­ern­ment’s en­gi­neers.”

Sooner the bet­ter!

Asked when cit­i­zens can ex­pect to see a start on site prepa­ra­tion for the fa­cil­ity, Coombs said he would like to see it get off the ground as soon as pos­si­ble. “The sooner the bet­ter.” How­ever, the town has to first ac­quire the land and a lot of plan­ning and engi­neer­ing work has to take place be­fore any ground can be bro­ken.

From pre­lim­i­nary talks with the town engi­neer, Coombs said he sees no rea­son why a start couldn’t be made next spring.

“ We’ll put a board of direc­tors and man­age­ment team in place to run the fa­cil­ity.” But that’s a while down the road.

For now, Coombs is pleased to see the province ap­prove the fund­ing.

“ These are ex­cit­ing times!” he ex­claimed.”

First ar­ti­fi­cial ice

Named after Har­bour Grace fish mer­chant Si­las Wil­mot Moores, the build­ing which once housed Con­cep­tion Bay’s first ar­ti­fi­cial ice sur­face has seen bet­ter days. Mil­lions have been poured into ren­o­va­tions, upgrades and retrofits over the past half-cen­tury. But Car­bon­ear-Har­bour Grace MHA Jerome Kennedy ac­knowl­edged in a Com­pass in­ter­view ear­lier this year, “the 53-year-old arena is show­ing its age.”

As for the old sta­dium build­ing, owned by the town of Har­bour Grace, Don Coombs is not wor­ried about its fate.

On the day fund­ing for the new arena was an­nounced, Coombs told The Com­pass he had a call and an of­fer to pur­chase the old steel­framed build­ing. He de­clined to say who made the of­fer. “ While the S.W. Moores Sta­dium has served our re­gion ex­tremely well, res­i­dents of Har­bour Grace will cer­tainly wel­come this new fa­cil­ity,” Coombs said.

The new sta­dium will likely have a new name. In this day and age of cor­po­rate spon­sor­ship, Coombs didn’t rule out the pos­si­bil­ity that some com­pany may be in­ter­ested in pay­ing to have its name on the build­ing. He said they may also con­sider run­ning a name-the-new-sta­dium con­test.

“ We’re open to all of­fers and sug­ges­tions,” the mayor said.

Cost-shared

The provin­cial gov­ern­ment will cover 80 per cent of the cost of the new arena, while Har­bour Grace tax­pay­ers will be re­spon­si­ble for the re­main­ing 20 per cent.

Point­ing to Har­bour Grace’s long his­tory as­so­ci­ated with sport and recre­ation, par­tic­u­larly hockey, Car­bon­ear-Har­bour Grace MHA Jerome Kennedy said, “this arena will fur­ther en­hance this con­nec­tion.

“This is an important project for our area, one which will ben­e­fit our youth and all those who wish to main­tain an ac­tive and healthy life­style,” the Min­is­ter of Health and Com­mu­nity Ser­vices said.

Har­bour Grace is one of four com­mu­ni­ties, in­clud­ing Con­cep­tion Bay South, Par­adise and Marys­town, which are also get­ting new recre­ation fa­cil­i­ties at a to­tal cost of $50.6 mil­lion.

This site at the cor­ner of Jamie’s Way and Har­vey Street West will be the lo­ca­tion for the new multi-mil­lion­dol­lar arena to be built in Har­bour Grace. Work on the fa­cil­ity is ex­pected to start next year and the build­ing is set to open some­time in 2014.

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