Norwich ice rink breakdown threatens reopening

Norwich – Plans to reopen the Norwich ice rink by Sept. 1 could be in jeopardy after the temporary chiller unit installed last week broke down Monday, Ice Rink Authority Chairman Francois “Pete” Desaulniers said.

The Ice Rink Authority will hold an emergency meeting Tuesday at 7 p.m. at the rink to discuss the latest problem and how it could affect the planned re-opening of the rink by Sept. 1.

Desaulniers said the Trane heating and cooling company will bring in a new temporary chiller Tuesday to replace the defective unit. Questions remain however, regarding whether the salt water brine in the rink’s cooling system will need to be treated before the unit can be installed and turned on, Desaulniers said.

The authority had hoped to be turning the corner after a series of mechanical malfunctions dating back to Feb. 13 in the nearly 20-year-old existing cooling system. The system broke down again May 6, and the rink has been closed since that incident.

The authority plans to use a temporary chiller for about three months while awaiting a permanent new chiller from the Trane company. The rental will cost $14,000 per month. Desaulniers said the authority will not be responsible for costs associated with Monday’s breakdown.

But a delay in reopening the rink could hurt the financially struggling city-owned rink. Hockey teams are planning to rent the rink in September, with the Connecticut College team starting on Sept. 2.

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