By Leah Sander
WINONA LAKE — Winona Lake has officially started the process for building an ice rink.
At its meeting on Tuesday, March 16, the Winona Lake Town Council unanimously approved an agreement with WL Ice LLC to build the rink.
The town will use a process called BOT to create the ice rink and a multi-use pavilion. BOT stands for build, operate and transfer and means a developer can essentially complete a project and later shift ownership to a government entity.
The rink and pavilion will be constructed at the former site of the Billy Sunday Tabernacle along Park Avenue.
The project will include the pavilion containing the rink, an outdoor gas fireplace where skaters may warm up and a maintenance building.
The refrigerated rink will be open for only a few months out of the year, but the more than 20,000-square-foot pavilion will be used for other activities during the off-months.
Plans were for the rink to be ready in November; however, it was revealed at the meeting Tuesday that the project is now estimated to be finished in early 2022.
At a public hearing for the project in February, leaders estimated the cost to be $6.5 million. A K21 Health Foundation grant will cover $1.5 million of the cost. Officials said at the public hearing they plan to collect donations, possibly work with the Kosciusko County Community Foundation and possibly use Tax Increment Financing (TIF) to pay off the remaining balance.
A groundbreaking for the project is scheduled at noon Friday, March 19.
The council also approved the Winona Lake Park Board’s master plan for 2021-26.
The board already approved the plan at a meeting on March 9. The council needed to approve it as well before it can be passed along to the state.
The plan is necessary to apply for grants.
One of the upcoming projects is adding items to Bibler Park, located at Faunn Street. The board plans to add a new play structure and a new concrete pad/basketball goal and/or new soccer goal in 2021/22.
This year, the board plans to buy more paddleboats, kayaks and paddleboards for people to rent. In 2024, it hopes to add a public boat rental launch/pier for small boats to Winona Lake Limitless Park.
A bike skills park is being planned for 2025.
The council also heard a request from Luke and Whitney Wright.
They’re seeking to have a vintage trailer they’re restoring be used as a vacation rental in Winona Lake.
“We’ve had an ordinance in effect since 1966 that we don’t allow any owner-occupied or other types of campers on lots or in persons’ side yards or anywhere either on the property or on a vacant lot,” said Town Manager Craig Allebach.
“We understand the heart of the ordinance, but we’re trying to sort of cater to the trends and cater to the people that are wanting a new experience outside of just your standard Airbnb,” said Luke Wright. “We think it’s an opportunity to use an open lot, create a nice experience … it can sleep six.”
The council tabled making a decision so they could review the ordinance.
The council also reviewed bids and selected one for expanding Heritage Trail.
They awarded the project to Niblock Excavating Inc., which had the lowest bid of $208,400.50. Other companies and their respective bids were: G&G Hauling and Excavating Inc., $283,359; Haskins Underground Inc., $283,531.50; Wayne Asphalt and Construction Co. Inc., $320,422.15; and Phend and Brown Inc., $363,363.
The town plans to extend the Heritage Trail system from the Grace College athletic fields to CR 250E and along Pierceton Road. The bid accepted Tuesday is only for a portion of that extension.
In other business, the council:
- Approved having Baker Tilly continue to provide financial advisory and accounting services for the town.
- Approved allowing Town Fire Chief Kevin Gelbaugh to apply for a $150,000 grant to buy seven new truck radios and 33 portable radios for the department.
The council’s next meeting is 6 p.m. Tuesday, April 20, at the town hall.