By ANDREA POTEET
Sunday Times Newspapers
ALLEN PARK – The city’s community center and ice rink may soon be operated by a private company.
Councilors unanimously passed a motion Tuesday to seek bids on the operation of the facility, while maintaining ownership of it.
Councilors estimate that the move could save the city an estimated $500,000 a year in losses on the facility. The operators would be responsible for maintenance, upkeep, and day-to-day running of the facility.
But the move also was influenced by the decision of the Allen Park Hockey Association to seek ice time in Lincoln Park because of the uncertainty of the home rink. The facility was rumored to be closing for months before the DDA donated $334,000 to keep it from closing through the June 30 end of the fiscal year in December.
“Allen Park Hockey Association should be skating in Allen Park,” Councilman Bob Keenan said. “This proposal that we’re looking at is an effort to keep those kids skating in their home rink.”
But Councilman Harry Sisko, who eventually voted in favor of the proposal, initially voiced concerns that it could translate into higher usage costs for residents.
“I’m pretty well against any private company coming in and running that community center for anything,” Sisko said. “I think that cost will get passed on to everybody else in a higher form than if we did it ourselves. They are going to have to make their money, and they are going to pass that on to the citizens. For that reason alone, I’m very skeptical.”
Councilman Dennis Hayes disagreed.
“It’s not giving away the building or selling the building,” Hayes said. “The idea that we could possibly save some money in terms of long-term cost … there’s a possibility for a good result.”
Bids were to be solicited beginning Wednesday and the council will review them May 10. A special meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. May 15 to discuss the recommended bid.