By MADELYN FAIRBANKS
Published June 27, 2012
Wakeboard park and now ice arena wants to locate in west Monroe
MONROE - From the looks of the past two City Council meeting agendas, the city appears to be gung-ho on bringing adventure to west Monroe.
Just one week after approving an agreement to build a wakeboard park on Lake Tye, the council was presented with a proposal at the June 19 council meeting to build an ice arena right next door to the lake and west of Fryelands Boulevard, south of U.S. 2.
Several council members echoed each other’s excitement about the idea. Councilman Jason Gamble mentioned that he grew up in a town with an ice arena and felt that it added a lot to the community behind it. Planning and permitting manager Paul Popelka added that the ice arena would lend itself to creating “youth activities that are desperately needed in the town.”
But the zoning of the seven acres of land — which is currently owned by East Side Masonry and would be sold to the arena developers — presents some challenges to planners.
For one, the land sits in an airport protection area.
Further, most of the land sits in land-use zones that only allow for 60 to 100 people per acre. A smaller portion of the property has virtually no population density limit, Popelka said.
FirstAir Field manager Daryl Habich said the proposed ice arena wouldn’t physically affect the airport, as the height of the arena would most certainly be under the strict 35-foot limit to allow for airplane visibility and navigation.
But the zoning restrictions concerning population, Habich explained, limits the amount of people who would be affected in the event of a plane crash.
Even so, Habich said, “it’s not really an issue unless somebody runs into it,” adding that he’s not overly concerned about the possible changes to the area to allow for development.
To make the ice arena proposal a reality, the city likely would have to amend its comprehensive plan, Popelka said. The window to do that this year has passed. The city can only amend its comprehensive plan once a year.
Businessman and Lake Stevens resident Clayton Stewart is leading the group proposing the arena. Stewart said he has three other backers who have chosen to remain out of the public eye for now.
The arena would be a brand-new building and hold about 500 people, according to the proposal. It would likely be used for youth and adult hockey leagues, open skating and lessons, and may possibly even house batting cages.
Stewart said his group also is hoping to hold a tier 1, 2, or 3 junior hockey team in the arena, though the population restrictions will likely prevent a tier 1 team from adopting the arena.
The new facility, Stewart said, would create a great gateway to the area.
If the proposal goes through, the arena would likely open in 2013, Popelka said.