Norwich planning commission says rink upgrade meets city plan’s goals

Norwich — Avoiding any comments on the potential political controversy surrounding whether the City Council should spend $680,000 to replace the cooling system at the Norwich Municipal Ice Rink, the Commission on the City Plan Tuesday voted unanimously that the project meets goals in the city’s plan of conservation and development.

City charter requires that proposed bonding ordinances be reviewed by the Commission on the City Plan prior to a vote by the City Council. The ordinance calls for bonding $680,000 for a new cooling system and numerous other required mechanical upgrades to the aging ice rink.

The City Council will hold a public hearing on the ordinance at 6:30 p.m. April 21 in the Council Chambers.

The spending plan likely will face some opposition, as the rink has lost money every year since it opened and has been subsidized by the city over the years. If the equipment project is approved, the rink’s total debt to the city would top $1 million.

Ice Arena Authority Chairman Francois “Pete” Desaulniers, who also is City Council president pro tempore, said he is confident once the rink is upgraded, it will be able to pay back the debt over several years.

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