Our View: Council should rethink ice rink investment

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The Los Alamos County Council should be applauded for its decisive action Wednesday in the approval of eight capital improvement projects. With one notable exception, the council has committed your tax dollars to work on undertakings that should indeed yield some quality of life improvements.

The one project that should have been excluded is the ice rink. Expending $1.5 million to rehab that facility is a pig in a poke. The rink is in an atrocious location, too far removed from town. At best, it should become a place for training and practice.

If the county council truly wants to fund a public ice rink, then it should scrap the current plan and redirect those funds toward the development of a facility that’s more connected — something that could be more multi-purpose and serve as a focal point.

The council should look to a model that is similar in nature to the ice rink at New York’s Rockefeller Center. During the winter months, that facility serves its intended purpose and in the spring, summer and fall it becomes a place for outdoor dining, adjacent to shopping — it’s a gathering spot and an escape from the hustle and bustle.

The current rink is essentially situated in a floodplain, and it will never be adjacent to any other amenities aside from the great outdoors — a gathering place for the occasional bear or random pack of coyotes.

The present ice rink is not by any stretch of the imagination a focal point, nor will it ever be a draw for tourists even if they could find it.

Granted, in the big scheme of things allocating $1.5 million out of $34 million in capital spending over the next four years is a drop in the bucket. But the bottom line is, this is a waste of tax dollars, and in the face of this economic climate and dwindling revenues for the county every dollar should be focused on yielding the absolute best return on investment possible.

The county council would be well-served to rethink this expenditure and bank those funds until downtown revitalization presents an opportunity to develop an ice rink that can be part of an attraction which delivers an economic shot in the arm for the county and its citizens.