The city of Berkley is looking to demolish its shuttered ice arena later this year and turn the lot into an open green space for the Parks and Recreation Department.

The city of Berkley is looking to demolish its shuttered ice arena later this year and turn the lot into an open green space for the Parks and Recreation Department.

File photo by Deb Jacques

Berkley looking to demolish ice arena this summer

By: Mike Koury | Woodward Talk | Published April 23, 2019


BERKLEY — The Berkley Ice Arena, which has been closed since 2016, is set to be demolished later this year.

At its April 15 meeting, the City Council approved an agreement with the city’s engineering consultants, Hubbell, Roth & Clark Inc., to provide professional engineering services relating to the demolition and site restoration of the arena at a cost not to exceed $21,762.76.

“It’s incredibly unfortunate that we are at this point — much to, I’m sure, everybody’s dismay — but at the same time, the building doesn’t do much good to just be sitting there in a state of disrepair, so we have to move on, unfortunately,” Mayor Dan Terbrack said.

The ice arena, which first opened in 1974, was last used for Berkley Days in 2018, but it has not been used as an ice rink since its closure. As it is no longer able to serve its primary purpose, City Manager Matthew Baumgarten said the city had first hoped to find a way to salvage the building for other purposes and return it to an active part of the city’s recreation services.

“Unfortunately, nothing has worked out up to this point,” he said. “The building now is to the point where it is generally unsafe to occupy. There are a number of structural issues, as well as roof leaks, and there’s issues with plumbing and electrical and most of its major systems.”

What Berkley is aiming to do now with the site is to demolish the ice arena and turn the land into open recreational green space. If all goes according to plan, the building will begin to be demolished July 8. The project’s completion and final restoration are marked as Sept. 30.

“The reason this is coming for you now for something that would be a budget item for next fiscal year is we’re trying to make sure the timing works out such that it can’t ill affect anything like camps or baseball or school or anything like that,” Baumgarten said. “We’re trying to wedge it into a very specific window here so that all of our community groups that use the space, as well as Theresa’s department, they can continue running without a hitch.”

Parks and Recreation Director Theresa McArleton said the agreement passed April 15 is not to demolish the building, but a proposal for Hubbell, Roth & Clark to take Berkley through the bidding process to get bids back for the demolition. The consultants then will take the city through the construction and the completion of the project at the end of September.

McArleton and Hubbell, Roth & Clark Vice President Roland Alix took the time to answer any of the council’s questions regarding the project, such as how nearby homes will be protected during the demolition.

“The design and the bid documents will be clear that the homes around the site shall be protected,” Alix said. “Working hours will be limited to limit the disruption to the community.”

While the proximity of the homes is not as close as the actual property lines, there will be provisions as far as the direction from which the contractor can demolish the building to limit debris that might fall across the property line.

“As far as days of the week and hours that they’re able to work, those have yet to be defined, but those will be very defined,” Alix said. “We’ll work with the city staff, work with Theresa, with council, with Matt to determine what hours we want to limit the contractor’s access to, and that will help to limit the disruptions to the community.”

Another question raised had to do with if there is any concern that the freon leak that caused the ice arena to shut down in the first place might have caused any environmental concerns.

McArleton said that all the freon went out of the building safely more than two years ago and, from what she’s been told, once the freon goes into the air, it shouldn’t be a concern. Alix added that he’s not too concerned about any freon issues either.

“We’ll keep an eye on that, and if we do find any issues or anything needs to be tested ... that’s not in this proposal, but that would be something that we would add on as we go,” McArleton said.