Plans to relocate Hendersonville’s inline hockey rinks from Veterans Park to Volunteer Park at Arrowhead are underway after a vote Tuesday by the city’s Capital Projects Committee.
The committee voted to move the two existing rinks to a site that is currently a soccer field in Volunteer Park. It also voted to spend some of the insurance money the city received from a flood in February to pay for a design study for the new rinks.
The city received around $790,000 from its insurance carrier after flooding on Feb. 23 destroyed the rinks as well as flooring at Mary’s Magical Place, a playground that is also in Veterans Park. It spent around $300,000 of that money to repair the playground.
The remaining $490,000 will go towards rebuilding the inline rinks but won’t cover the full cost, Parks Director Andy Gilley told members of the Public Works and Capital Projects committees on Sept. 4. Gilley also said that since the hockey rinks that are located in a flood plain, have flooded twice, the insurance carrier said it wouldn’t pay for repairs if the area flooded again.
During the Sept. 4 meeting much of the discussion centered around where to relocate the inline rinks and whether or not to re-build covered rinks that would draw tournaments to the area.
Gilley said the only city-owned land the rinks could go on that wasn’t in a flood plain was either at Volunteer Park or on land beside the Hendersonville Senior Citizen Center. It will cost around $1.5 million to rebuild the two outdoor rinks, while a covered facility that would draw tournaments would cost between $2.5 million to $3 million.
When Ward 3 Alderman Arlene Cunningham asked how the city would pay for a $3 million facility, Gilley said that a consultant with the Municipal Technical Advisory Services has said the city could issue a revenue bond that would be paid back by the city’s hotel-motel tax.
“We’re losing players every season by not having covered rinks,” Hendersonville Inline Hockey Association board member Randy Hoffman told committee members. Hoffman said that there are similar facilities in Snellville, Ga., and St. Louis, Mo.
“This will make us very unique in the Southeast,” said Hoffman whose league has around 350-400 participants.
The committees voted then to get input from the Hendersonville Parks Board as well as the city’s two soccer leagues, Tennessee United and the Hendersonville Soccer Club, about relocating the rinks to Volunteer Park.
On Tuesday, Gilley said that the parks board voted 5 to 1 to recommend the relocation. The Hendersonville Soccer Club didn’t provide input while Tennessee United expressed concern since they donated $25,000 for lights in the park, Gilley added.
Ward 1 Alderman Mark Skidmore acknowledged that the city is giving up one of 16 soccer fields for the inline rinks.
“It’s important to note that we support soccer, but we have an opportunity to get inline hockey back on its feet,” said Skidmore who then made the motion to move the rinks and advertise for a design study consultant.
The motion passed unanimously.
Ward 2 Alderman Scott Sprouse asked Gilley if the parks department would hire a consultant to conduct a long-range plan for the park system.
“We need to bite the bullet and start making more long-range plans,” said Sprouse. Gilley said he would request that again in next year’s budget.