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Brainerd City Council: BAHA and city extend contract along with ADA compliance improvements

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There won’t be a lockout at the Brainerd Civic Center anytime soon, with Brainerd City Council members approving the contract extension agreement for five years between the city of Brainerd and Brainerd Amateur Hockey Association (BAHA) during Monday night’s council meeting.

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Rodney Rahn represented BAHA during the meeting, adding that in the contract extension proposal, requests for facility ADA improvements and the approval for BAHA to purchase a new zamboni, both with the intention to meet the state compliance requirements.

Rahn said that BAHA would like to replace the zamboni that has been used at Gold Medal Arena to meet the new air quality standards.

“Right now, it’s (the zamboni) only usable for the remainder of this month,” said Rahn, citing current air quality standards require ice arenas to comply effective Dec. 1, 2012. “We (BAHA) would purchase and own it for operation there at the Civic Center and Gold Medal Arena.”

According to Rahn, BAHA has spent $4,300 in maintenance of the Gold Medal zamboni and the cost of a new zamboni is approximately $150,000. Rahn added that BAHA might be able to locate a used zamboni for $70-$80,000. The cost will be taken on completely by BAHA.

Ron said that as a condition to requesting the city to extend the contract, BAHA would need to be ensured that things can be made up to ADA compliance, citing the written proposal:

“We cannot continue to put our organization at risk of litigation related to the handicap accessibility of the Civic Center, so we therefore request, as a condition of the extension of the management contract, the city, as owners of the Civic Center, facilitate making the Civic Center handicap accessible (at no cost to BAHA) by June 1, 2013.”

Rahn added that the problem of the ADA compliance “or lack thereof” at the Civic Center has been the base of numerous complaints. He said resolving the issue will not only be good for BAHA but for the Civic Center and the city as well.

Currently the Civic Center does not have an elevator available for handicap use.

Council member Bob Olson said he would first want to know the cost of the handicap accessibility before moving forward.

“I think representing the citizens of Brainerd we should do more research on this,” said Olson, making a motion to table the issue until the Feb. 1, 2013 meeting to allow more research on cost. Olson’s motion failed with no second.

“We have ways we can secure funds,” said council member Bonnie Cumberland, “and I’m not about to turn around and ask the taxpayers to do this, I think there’s enough support in the community to do this.”

Mayor James Wallin echoed Cumberland’s sentiments on the importance of fixing this issue at the Civic Center immediately.

“If you don’t spend the money when it’s needed, down the road we can spend a lot more money when someone is getting hurt,” said Wallin. “We need to take care of this now.”

Cumberland made a motion to not only approve the management contract extension for additional five years but included as the proposal states that BAHA take care of purchasing a new zamboni and the city handle the ADA compliance installation of an elevator at the Civic Center with cost not to exceed $150,000 with money coming from grants and donations if at all possible.

The motion passed 5-1, with council member Kevin Goedker absent and Olson voting no.

JESSI PIERCE, staff writer, may be reached at 855-5859 or jessi.pierce@brainerddispatch.com. Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/jessi_pierce (@jessi_pierce).

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