RECREATION: Town to bid on cooling system

Grants provide push toward arena repairs

Michelle Monroe

By Michelle Monroe

Executive Editor

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It’s a huge savings.

- Kim Gates, HART chair

HIGHGATE — The Town of Highgate has located a possible cooling system to replace the more than 40-year-old system in the Highgate arena.

A town in Maine is installing a larger rink and has placed its current system on auction.

The Highgate Selectboard, on the recommendation of the Highgate Arena Renovation Team (HART), will use a Housing and Urban Development grant it received several years ago to bid on the cooling system, explained town administrator Heidi Britch-Valenta.

The grant is for $196,000 and must be used by 2015.

The cooling system Highgate seeks to purchase is five years old, according to Kim Gates, chair of HART. “It’s a huge savings,” said Gates, making the comparison to purchasing a new system.

Highgate also received an $18,000 grant through the Northwest Regional Planning Commission (NRPC) Healthy People, Strong Communities program for the installation of a new dehumidifier.

The dehumidifier will make it possible to transition the arena to summer uses much more quickly once the ice is removed following the hockey and public ice skating season, explained Gates.

Highgate has worked on the renovation of the arena for several years. First, the town sought the assistance of neighboring communities Franklin and Swanton. The three towns crafted a plan that would have made the arena a jointly owned and managed endeavor following a $4.3 million renovation. However, Swanton voters rejected the proposal, leaving Highgate to create a renovation plan it can pay for on its own.

The town also recently received a donation of about $400,000 in equipment from Sticks & Stuff, which purchased it from a closing recreation facility in the Northeast Kingdom.