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County approves tax-exempt bonds for one ice center; Chesterfield Valley TDD Board considers sales tax extension for second

By: Jim Erickson


Preliminary approval of up to $45 million in tax-exempt bonds to help finance a new Maryland Heights ice rink facility won’t have any impact on plans for a similar facility in Chesterfield Valley.

That’s the view of Chesterfield Hockey Association [CHA] leaders, who have consistently maintained their proposed two-sheet ice rink isn’t in competition with the Maryland Heights operation or other facilities in the planning stages elsewhere.

Proposed St. Louis Ice Center

Preliminary approval of up to $45 million in tax-exempt bonds to help finance a new Maryland Heights ice rink facility won’t have any impact on plans for a similar facility in Chesterfield Valley.

That’s the view of Chesterfield Hockey Association [CHA] leaders, who have consistently maintained their proposed two-sheet ice rink isn’t in competition with the Maryland Heights operation or other facilities in the planning stages elsewhere.

Meanwhile, the initial OK for the bond issue from the St. Louis County Industrial Development Authority was a big boost for the St. Louis Legacy Ice Foundation, the group leading the Maryland Heights project. As now planned, St. Louis County would own the land and buildings. The foundation would lease those assets and operate them as the St. Louis Ice Center.

Other key aspects identified in the project’s financing include $14 million in donations from project supporters, $7 million from the Blues for construction costs, another $500,000 from the Blues for Kids Foundation earmarked for operational support during the facility’s first three years and up to $6 million from the city of Maryland Heights for site preparation. For its financial support, Maryland Heights would be able to use the new facility for public programming and community events.

However, assuming all the financial ducks remain in a row, the new facility still must clear other hurdles. The project’s location in the northeast corner of Creve Coeur Lake Memorial Park must win approval from the National Park Service. Opponents of the ice rink site say the location runs counter to federal rules designating the area only for outdoor recreation.

As for the Chesterfield Valley project, the CHA, a private not-for-profit corporation established 22 years ago for the development and operation of amateur youth hockey in western St. Louis County, would build, own and operate it. CHA also would use a majority of the ice time available.

Mark Kraus, CHA president, noted that the proposed ice rink in Maryland Heights will have no impact on the Chesterfield facility and that the two projects are not in competition. Tom Kaiman, a Chesterfield resident active in developing the CHA facility in the Valley, also observed, “As a hockey parent and coach, I can say the region needs new ice rinks to replace those about to be lost and to update others.”

Kaiman’s reference to lost ice rinks was a nod to Hardee’s Iceplex in Chesterfield, which already has closed and soon will be demolished to make way for a Top Golf driving range and entertainment operation.

The closing and demolition will displace the CHA’s home base, as well as various hockey clubs and others using that location.

 

Rendering of an ice arena proposed for the Chesterfield Valley

CHA’s proposed new facility is designed as a multi-use operation that also will welcome recreational and figure skaters, plus aficionados of curling and other ice-related sports and activities. Off-season alternative uses such as shows, meetings, graduations, conferences and community and charity events are anticipated.

The city of Chesterfield is not being asked to make any financial commitment to the $22.6 million complex, to be located south of Interstate 64, west of Spirit of St. Louis Boulevard. But CHA has asked the Chesterfield Valley Transportation Development District [TDD] to maintain a 3/8-cent sales tax paid by those making purchases from businesses in the Valley’s levee-protected area. Revenue from the sales tax would pay for an estimated $7 million in road improvements, utilities and parking facilities for the complex.

An affirmative vote by residential property owners in nearby subdivisions is needed to extend the existing tax, originally approved by voters in a 2005 election. Projects spelled out for the district in that first vote have been largely completed.

The TDD Board of Directors met at 8:30 a.m. on Monday, June 19 [after presstime]  at Chesterfield City Hall and were expected to consider and act on the proposal for an election asking voters in the area whether or not to extend the sales tax.

Current TDD board members include Chesterfield Mayor Bob Nation, City Administrator Mike Geisel, St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger and a representative from the county transportation department.

In a recent online public opinion poll, Nation asked for input on the question of whether or not to maintain the existing 3/8-cent TDD sales tax to finance the infrastructure costs for the proposed ice rink. Of the 5,229 responses, 95 percent, or 4,980, favored the extension.

 

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