ALPENA -The Alpena County Northern Lights Arena ad hoc committee met on Monday and agreed to issue a request for proposals to those who are interested in taking over management and operations of the arena.
One group already is being assembled and intends to submit a proposal. The new group will be comprised of people familiar with NLA, the business community, marketing and accounting. During the meeting David Meinhardt explained to the commissioners how the new group wants to add some fresh faces and ideas and replace some of the people who have helped to run the rink in the past.
Meinhardt said the plan is to have two sheets of ice open for a portion of the year and one sheet in place year around. He said he already has a budget in place based on an ice price of $175 and a commitment from the user groups to buy 5,566 hours of ice. He said he also has verbal commitments from local people wanting to donate or contribute money.
There is still some concern with the commissioners on the committee. Commissioner Thomas Mullaney questioned why rink 2 can't be used for other activities that don't require ice. He said he has received comments from his constituents who wonder why activities such as soccer and lacrosse aren't being held at the arena. Mullaney said at this point he isn't sure what the arena is or who it caters to.
"If I vote yes and then it appears I'm doing everything for the people who use the ice and afterward, people who play soccer will call and ask what I have against them," he said. "All we want is for the arena to be used in a proper manner, make money and keep as many people happy as possible."
Commissioner Cam Habermehl is not on the committee, but spoke during public comment. He said many of the people associated with the new group are users of the ice and selected by the Multi-Purpose Arena Coalition, the former managers of the arena. Habermehl said he thinks it would be best if people with interests outside of skating be in the group vying to get the management position. He said unless that happens, he will not vote for Meinhardt's proposal.
"I feel if some sort of committee is going to be put together to run the arena it needs to be made up of a cross section of the community and not just ice-related people," Habermehl said. "There needs to be some people who have no interest in the ice at all, people who are into other sports and maybe the FFA. Basically all of the names on the list are people involved in some type of ice activity, but it has some new names. You have to remember these people were asked by ice groups to do this. We need to go outside the ice community in my opinion."
The RFP will be issued and reviewed during the next ad hoc committee meeting at 10 a.m. on April 18.
Steve Schulwitz can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 358-5689. Follow Steve on Twitter ss_alpenanews. Read his blog, Upon Further Review ... at www.thealpenanews.com