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Costs rise on ice arena project as city stalls

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According to the article in Friday’s paper, Stephen Jennings took his first tour of the Watertown Municipal Arena and was shocked by what he saw.

What I am shocked at is the fact that Mr. Jennings was elected to office and was unaware of the conditions of such a major city landmark. I understand that Mr. Jennings didn’t take office until Jan. 1, but wouldn’t it be logical for Mr. Jennings and any other potential office-holder to be educated and aware of the pulse of the city even as they run for office?

I do applaud Mr. Jennings for taking the initiative to tour the facility and to make such informed observations. According to the article, Erin Gardner, superintendent of Parks and Recreation, said she was hopeful other council members would take up an invitation for a firsthand look at the 40-year-old facility.

I would like to know which council people are making $7 million to $11 million renovation decisions but apparently have little firsthand knowledge of the actual condition of this city landmark. Those council members including the mayor who are under-informed about the condition of a building erected in the mid-1970s and in obvious state of disrepair should ask themselves if they are really serving the best interest of the city by making million dollar decisions without actually being fully informed of the building’s condition.

The council, especially Joe Butler, seems to be balking at the current price tag. The price will just keep going up no matter how long the city puts it off.

What is not discussed in the paper is the social and economic impact this arena has on the city. I know for a fact without going into detail that any large-scale event at this arena draws people and money into the city of Watertown. Weekend youth hockey, hockey tournaments, hotels are booked and the restaurants are booming. Summer concerts, hotels are booked and restaurants are booming.

The list goes on and on, yet we are still looking at a start date of spring 2015 for renovations to start.

One last word of caution to the City Council and especially Mr. Butler, who seems possessed to accomplish this project the cheapest way possible: “You get what you pay for.”

Heath Ash

Copenhagen

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