Earlier this month, it was announced that capital needs for the Mount Clemens Ice Arena are an estimated $3 million. Mount Clemens is proposing a capital improvement bond at 3.5% for 20 years.

Earlier this month, it was announced that capital needs for the Mount Clemens Ice Arena are an estimated $3 million. Mount Clemens is proposing a capital improvement bond at 3.5% for 20 years.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes


Mount Clemens Ice Arena improvements discussed

By: Alex Szwarc | Mount Clemens - Clinton - Harrison Journal | Published July 24, 2020 | Updated July 31, 2020 7:46am

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MOUNT CLEMENS — A couple million dollars of improvements were recently brought up for the Mount Clemens Ice Arena.

At a July 6 Mount Clemens City Commission special meeting, discussion keyed in on capital needs for the arena, located at 200 N. Groesbeck Highway. The arena is owned by the city of Mount Clemens.

Some of the top needs mentioned were ice compressors, as well as roof and parking lot replacement.

The most critical are the compressors, which were installed in 1994, original to when the building opened. The estimated cost to replace three compressors is $1.4 million.

The arena’s roof is also as old as the building. Mount Clemens City Manager Don Johnson said the estimated cost to replace the roof is $800,000.

“It’s badly deteriorating and needs to be replaced,” he said.  

The estimated cost to replace the parking lot is $550,000, for a grand total of $2,750,000 for the replacement of all three items.

Mount Clemens is proposing a capital improvement bond at 3.5% for 20 years. The city would be able to bond without an increase in taxes to residents.

CIMCO Refrigeration deals with recreational ice and would be responsible for installing a new compressor, a project that can take up to six weeks.

Currently, ice arena officials say it could pay between $100,000 and $150,000 for the replacements.

Mount Clemens Finance Director Cliff Maison said the arena has $6.9 million in assets and about $80,000 in cash.

Even with the ice arena shut down due to COVID-19, it costs $62,000 a month to operate.

“We feel the arena is the nicest physical asset the city of Mount Clemens owns,” Johnson said. “This is one of the nicest arenas in southeast Michigan.”  

Maison said many of the original assets are still in place and running at the arena, and if the compressors go, both sheets of ice will be lost.

“There’s nothing cheap about it,” he said.

Maison has been told that the lifespan of new compressors would be between 25 and 30 years. New compressors would reduce the arena’s electricity bill, which currently is between $15,000-$18,000 a month.  

Mindi Priskey, ice arena skating director, has worked there for 20 years.

“This arena is a gem and something we take a lot of pride in,” she said. “We average 750,000 people a year, and they come in from over cities, states and countries. We have a very big social and economic impact on the community.”

Priskey added that the arena has taken out bonds with the city before and has paid it back in full, costing the taxpayers nothing.

“We keep the numbers up by making it affordable,” Priskey said. “From September to May, we are completely ice locked. We never have open ice available.”

Maison indicated the arena doesn’t have many thrills, but it is well maintained and offers great ice.

“I think this is our best asset, and we have to maintain it,” Johnson said.

City Commissioner Laura Fournier said if the arena is unable to pay the debt service for the bonds, then the city has to make an extra $50,000 up in its budget.

Mount Clemens’ 2020-2021 budget is yet to be approved.

Fellow commissioner Denise Mentzner said the city needs the ice arena and that the compressors and roof have to be replaced.

“We need to figure out how to make it work,” she said. “Given the last few months, another consideration is if they will have the revenue they have had in the past.”

Priskey said COVID-19 hit the arena in its busy season.

The arena is not yet in a deficit but is trending toward one.

Mayor Laura Kropp said several people reached out to her with worries that the arena would close, a rumor she said was floating around.

“It does a lot for our reputation, and I’ve never heard anything negative about it,” she said. “If this is the time we’re going to borrow the money, then let’s do the full project if we can.”

The commission agreed it will move forward with a plan for the ice arena.

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