Ice plant failure 'imminent' at Casper Ice Arena, city scrambling for replacement dollars - Casper, WY Oil City News
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Ice plant failure ‘imminent’ at Casper Ice Arena, city scrambling for replacement dollars

(Casper Ice Arena, Facebook)

CASPER, Wyo. — Failure of the Casper Ice Arena’s ice plant is “imminent,” according to the city.

The city has put out a call for bids to replace the ice plant on three seperate occasions. The most recent call received three bids, the lowest of which was for about $2.45 million.

However, the city has only about $1.16 million set aside for the replacement project. When they received an estimate for the cost of the project, that estimate said it would cost about $1.5 million.

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The city council discussed how to move forward on replacement of the ice plant during their Tuesday, Jan. 14 work session. The council indicated they are likely to support using “Perpetual Care Fund” dollars and move forward with the lowest bid they received.

They’ll need to formally vote during a regular council meeting for this decision to become official.

Councilman Steve Cathey said he wants to ensure there is some kind of repayment program if “Perpetual Care Fund” dollars are used.

Vice Mayor Khrystyn Lutz said she’d like to hear a detailed report from the city’s accounting officials regarding the use of that fund prior to approving the use of those dollars.

City Manager Carter Napier said the city staff would be able to provide answers about how drawing from that fund would impact the city’s fiscal outlook.

Casper Parks and Recreation Director Tim Cortez said that city staff has found that the commercial refrigeration market has become “monopolistic,” leading to the higher bids the city has received.

The most recent call for bids include reusing the ice chiller which is currently at the Casper Events Center. The project would also include constructing a building to host the ice plant and work to install the ice system.

Cortez adds in the memo that this chiller at the Casper Events Center “was badly damaged during a water leak last year.”

Insurance is covering the damages to that plant. However, “there could be unknowns that have yet to be realized,” the memo states.

The current ice plant at the Casper Ice Arena is 35 years old which the city says is about 5-10 years past its life cycle.

“If you’ve read the memo, you’ve probably picked up that this is not one of those projects which has a lot of good answers,” City Manager Carter Napier told the council.

The memo from Cortez states that further delays to replacement could impact programming at the Casper Ice Arena next fall.

Mayor Steve Freel said that if something isn’t done, it could lead to the cancellation of the next hockey season or other activities.

The current ice plant system also utilizes R-22 Freon to operate.

“If anymore Freon is needed in the system, we will exceed what is permissible by the Environmental Protection Agency,” the memo adds.

Freel said that he didn’t think pouring more money into repairing the existing system was the best option.

Cortez said during the work session that the current ice plant frequently experiences leaks.

“If we want to do it, it requires an immediate infusion of money,” Cortez says of the replacement project.

He added that in order to avoid interruptions to programming, the project likely needs to be complete by Nov. 1, 2020.

While the council appears likely to approve the “Perpetual Care Fund” dollars to move forward, Cortez also outlined other possible options for the council to consider:

(City of Casper)

City Councilman Bob Hopkins said he thought the council should “bite the bullet” and come up with the additional needed funding.

Most of the council members expressed displeasure with being in this situation, but said that completing the replacement project was important as well.

If you would like to contact members of the Casper City Council regarding this or any other issue, here is their contact information:

Mayor Steve Freel (Ward III, Term expires 1/3/23):

Vice Mayor Khrystyn Lutz (Ward I, Term expires 1/3/23):

Councilman Charlie Powell (Ward II, Term Expires 1/5/21):

Councilman Shawn Johnson (Ward II, Term expires 1/3/23):

Councilman Ken Bates (Ward II, Term expires 1/5/21):

Councilman Steve Cathey (Ward III, Term Expires 1/5/21):

Councilman Bob Hopkins (Ward I, Term expires 1/5/21):

Councilman Mike Huber (Ward I, Term expires 1/5/21):

Councilman Ray Pacheco (Ward III, Term expires 1/3/23):

Council members can also be reached by mail at: 200 N. David Street, 82601

If you would like to contact members in your specific ward, but don’t know which ward you are in, a map is available at the City of Casper’s website.