WDAY: The News Leader

Published September 01, 2010, 09:32 AM

Controversial ice arena to cost $3 million more than expected

Fergus Falls, Minn. (WDAY TV) - More fuel on the fire for a controversial new ice arena in Fergus Falls. Construction will cost 3 million dollars more than expected. That delays fall construction to at least next spring, and will impact people's ability to vote on how to pay for it.

John Strauch/Concerned about arena: “I feel the homework was not done properly, this whole thing was rushed.”

The city budgeted 6 million for the arena's construction here at the old high school. That's already more than city council candidate John Strauch wanted to pay because he says it doesn't benefit the majority, is not a top city priority, and will hurt elderly on a fixed income.

John: “That money could be used more wisely.”

The price shot up to 9 million during the bidding process.

Mark Sievert/Fergus Falls City Administrator: “Obviously throws that whole budget out of whack.”

City leaders are going over numbers with contractors, looking for reasons for the big swing.

Mark: “Not making it any easier to convince the public of the project, to sell it.”

The next step is getting council members who budgeted 4 million, fundraisers who put up 3 million and anyone else who want to discuss alternative options, which could range from switching sites to canceling the project all together, though hundreds of thousands are already spent on the design process.

Mark: “You can downsize, but then are you basically defeating what you were trying to accomplish in the first place.”

In November, voters will decide whether to approve a half cent sales tax to help pay for construction or face increased property taxes in the future. The problem now is people won't necessarily know exactly what type of project they're voting on. At least a dozen contractors bid on the general construction of the building. The project also requires mechanical, utilities and refrigeration work.