Study: Recreation facility, hold the ice

SANDUSKY Ice rink? No thanks. Multipurpose sports facility? Keep talking.
May 24, 2010



Ice rink? No thanks.

Multipurpose sports facility? Keep talking.

The city's long-awaited feasibility study on a potential ice rink came back last week and suggested the city skate away from that idea.

But as for a multipurpose "dry floor" facility, the study, conducted by Michigan-based JRV Management, said the city should consider it a viable option.

"We recommend that the city of Sandusky consider the development of a community/recreation facility that will provide the city and the surrounding communities with the additional dry floor space needed to accommodate the growing needs of school district, the youth, the community organizations and other entities," the study stated.

"The individuals interviewed were clear in their comments: Facility space is lacking and inadequate to properly serve the community. A facility that would accommodate sports such as basketball, volleyball, wrestling meets, cheerleading functions, floor hockey, etc., as well as meeting space for organizations and small events, could be a point of pride and a magnet for citizens."

The Frost-Parker Foundation donated $15,000 last year for the study.

JRV Management interviewed nearly 40 community leaders, with the interactions lasting between 15 minutes and two hours. The interviewees ranged from the seven city commissioners to local businesses, pastors and leaders of community organizations such as Boys & Girls Club of Erie County and Sandusky/Erie County Community Foundation.

Scott Schell, the city's economic development specialist, said the next step is to pin down a cost estimate.

To be economically viable, the facility must be large enough "to have a few things going on at the same time," Schell said.

According to the study, community leaders gave a "lukewarm" response to an ice-rink-only facility.

"Two major themes became apparent throughout the course of this process," the study stated. "There were many other more pressing needs and desires of the community with respect to community and recreation activities before a rink," and there was "concern for the cost to develop and maintain an ice facility."

The study talked at length about the need for space for recreational activities in the area.

It said Sandusky and Perkins High Schools no longer provide space for intramural sports. It also said organizations "like the AAU and Ohio Athletic Committee could sponsor tournaments in the area if adequate gymnasium space were available."

"One- to three-day tournaments can bring as many as 1,000 athletes to a community, along with their families who require places to stay and eat," the study stated.

Last year, city manager Matt Kline and city commissioner Julie Farrar said those tournaments bring a lot of money into the city.

"At some of these tournament there are 10,000 athletes," said Kline, who used to shuttle his children across the country to indoor soccer tournaments. "So I just start doing the multiplying. ... Those people are downtown, eating at your restaurants, staying at your hotels, shopping at your stores."

The facility would range between 40,000-80,000 feet, Schell said.

As for the best location, the study identified six sites: The Sandusky Cabinets site between Washington and Market streets; land adjacent to Sandusky High School on Hayes Avenue; Milan Road at Sycamore Line; the Steuk farm site at U.S. 6 and Ohio 2; and the J.D. Byrider and Tracy Farm properties on Cleveland Road, both of which have been discussed as possible replacement properties in the Marina District transaction.

Schell said once JRV Management identifies possible prices for the facility, he'd like to re-interview many of the "major players" in the community and "see if we can get everyone moving in the right direction" on what type of activities the building might host.