By Anna Jauhola
In an emergency meeting Tuesday, March 30, the Hallock City Council approved a resolution for the city to sponsor a grant to build an outdoor ice rink.
Within the last month, Hallock Youth Hockey – a nonprofit organization – began looking for grants to build the rink. Brett Sobolik, vice president of youth hockey, addressed the council regarding the grant.
“The only one I could find was a DNR Outdoor Recreation grant,” Sobolik said. “It specifically talks about outdoor skating rinks.”
The grant application was due March 31, hence the emergency meeting.
The idea has been floating around for a while. The city once had an outdoor rink that sat between the ice arena and Kittson Central School on the north end of town. That vacant lot is the target location to again build an outdoor facility.
Youth hockey officials say an additional rink will allow for more ice time for the younger hockey players because prime ice time goes to the varsity players immediately after school.
The program is a matching grant with the sponsoring entity responsible for 50 percent of the cost. While the resolution gives City Administrator Aimee Sugden the authority to administer the grant, Sobolik said youth hockey and other volunteers will be at the ready to assist with the building and maintenance of the structure.
“When it snows, we’ve got it planned that we can use a skid steer to clear it off and Zamboni the ice,” he said. “We’ll be able to keep it up pretty easy.”
Sobolik said the application is straightforward, but needed a permanent easement from the landowner and a resolution from the city. The Kittson Central Board of Education granted the permanent easement on March 24.
In a three-week period, Sobolik worked to secure $50,000 in donations from individuals, businesses and other donors. Hallock Youth Hockey has dedicated $25,000 to the project. Volunteers and businesses will donate $10,000 worth of materials and time to complete the rink.
Through bids received from different contractors, Sobolik estimates the rink could cost about $170,000 to build.
“I didn’t know if I’d be able to get it all done, but it ended up working out,” Sobolik said. “Hopefully we can get this funding.”
The grant guidelines on the DNR website state, “The local share can consist of cash or the value of materials, labor and equipment usage by the local sponsor or by donations or any combination thereof.”
The project proposes a 135-foot-by-65-foot cement pad to be the base for the rink. Sobolik said a cement base will allow for the rink to be used year-round – ice in the winter, roller hockey and pickleball in the warm months. This will cost approximately $44,000. The previous outdoor rink had a dirt/gravel base, which was difficult to maintain and didn’t allow for even ice.
The project also includes new lighting to ensure maximum use of the rink, which will cost about $18,000. Site preparation will be about $15,000.
The most expensive part of the project is the sideboards. Sobolik contacted Becker Arena Products for a bid on boards with an aluminum frame and UV protected material that would stand up to the elements. The bid came in at $93,000, but Sobolik said these will last 20 or more years and are worth the investment.
Sobolik reminded the council the numbers he is submitting for the grant is only an estimate. The DNR announces grant recipients in July.
By Anna Jauhola