There were cheers and jeers over an ice rink proposed for Carson City's Pony Express Pavilion on Tuesday when nearly 100 people showed up at a public hearing to discuss the idea.
Dozens of ice-skating and ice hockey supporters assured Carson City Parks and Recreation Commissioners of a severe need for a local venue. But in-line hockey supporters also showed up to tell commissioners about the need for a roller-hockey venue, which already exists at the pavilion.
Roller hockey players and coaches told the commission their sport already supports the community, bringing in tournaments and giving local youth another sport. That sport, in which Carson High's team has been back-to-back state champions the last two years, would die here without the pavilion, they said.
Representatives from other events hosted in the pavilion also worried about the loss of a venue. About 10 organizations present events, ranging from fund-raisers to a summer camp in the venue. Parks and Recreation Director Roger Moellendorf said new venues could be found for the other events, but they might not be as good.
"Is it doable? Yes," Moellendorf said. "Comfortable? Probably not."
The positives of an ice rink, Moellendorf said, would be the addition of a year-round, seven-day-a-week activity in a place that is currently used only sporadically. Also, Moellendorf and ice-hockey supporters said the only rink in the Reno/Sparks area is about to close, leaving Northern Nevada with no ice rinks, as opposed to single smaller cities such as Colorado Springs, Colo., which has seven.
Despite criticism of the proposal, the bulk of the audience, which overflowed from the meeting room into the hallway, clearly supported an ice rink in the pavilion.
"The community voted that ice rink in," said Carson City resident Kim Aglietti. "Why don't you give this a chance for what it was made to be?"
Other ice rink proponents who spoke up at the meeting included Ben Farrar, 8, who said he's skated in many places, including on frozen ponds in Montana.
"I know a community ice rink is a lot different than frozen ponds, but I think it's better than nothing," he said.
Responding to a question from a commissioner regarding whether the open-air pavilion would be conducive to serious skating, 14-year-old Christine Hotchkin, a competitive ice skater who travels to Lake Tahoe every day at 4:45 a.m. to train at an ice rink there, replied simply: "Ice is ice."
The commission eventually tabled the idea until more information can be gathered. Most commissioners, however, were admittedly leaning against the proposal, leery of closing the pavilion off to uses other than ice skating.
"I'm just having a really hard time with the idea of booting these people off something we know is working," said Commissioner John Felesina.
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