Rink plan could wind up on thin ice

August 12, 1994|By Kerry O'Rourke | Kerry O'Rourke,Sun Staff Writer

A Lutherville businessman wants to build an indoor ice rink at Sandymount Park on land the county planned to use for a soccer field.

Tobias Kaye told the county commissioners yesterday that the rink would seat 500 people and would be used for hockey games, figure skating, public skating, lessons and parties.

It would have a pro shop, cafe and locker rooms. Admission would be about $5 per person, he said.

Two members of the Sandymount Recreation Council who attended his presentation said an ice rink probably would be a popular attraction, but that the community needs the additional soccer field.

Recreation and Parks Director Richard J. Soisson said the county could buy other land nearby for the soccer field. He said Sandymount was chosen as a site for the rink because it is easy to get to from Baltimore County.

Mr. Kaye said he and eight other investors have formed Ice Partners I Inc. to build a rink in Carroll County, Baltimore County or Harford County. They eventually want to build three rinks in the mid-Atlantic area, he said.

Commissioner Donald I. Dell said the rink "sounds like a worthy project," but that the commissioners would have to discuss it further with Mr. Soisson.

Mr. Kaye said he began looking into the project about six months ago after he took his daughter, Lauren, 12, to a Baltimore ice rink. The place was packed even though the building was old, he said. He saw a need for newer rinks in suburban areas.

Mr. Kaye said he wants to build a 46,000-square-foot building with two ice rinks that would cost $2.75 million. He said he would add 140 parking spaces to the existing lot. The company would need 3 1/2 to 4 acres for the building and parking lot. "We are not asking the county for a nickel," he said.

The company needs to build the rink on county land because it cannot afford to buy commercially zoned land, Mr. Kaye said. The county would lease the company the land. "We're offering a partnership," he told the commissioners.

He estimated that the rink would generate about $175,000 per year in state and local taxes.

Mr. Kaye is the managing member of Ice Partners I. He would contribute $271,500, about 10 percent, toward the cost of building the rink. The other eight members would contribute $400,000, about 15 percent.

The rest of the money would come from loans: 49 percent, or $1,375,000, from a commercial loan and 26 percent, or $703,500, from a Small Business Administration loan.

Jody Ledford, interim president of the Sandymount Recreation Council, said members have discussed Mr. Kaye's proposal "and response is more negative than positive."

Members don't want to lose a playing field and are worried about a parking shortage, she said.

Mr. Kaye said he would like to make a presentation to the recreation council before members "pass judgment" on the project.

Ms. Ledford and Pamela Malkin, community coordinator for the council, said Mr. Kaye would be welcome to talk to the council.

Mr. Soisson said the county and the council could sponsor a public meeting where Mr. Kaye could make his presentation and answer questions.

If the community did not want the rink at Sandymount Park, Mr. Kaye said, he "would get the message."

He urged neighbors to keep their minds open mind until they heard more about the project. "You would get a true community center," he said. "Unfortunately, there's an image that a rink has to be a metal barn."

He showed the commissioners a framed, color drawing of the outside of the rink. The reddish-brown building would have a sculpture of an ice skater in front, an awning over the entryway and flags.

Ms. Malkin said she was concerned that the rink might "overshadow the entire area." Sandymount Elementary School is the focus of the park, and the park has "a feeling of openness," she said.

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