Oct 29, 2022
BATAVIA — The city needs to replace the entire ice rink chiller system at the David M. McCarthy Memorial Ice Arena in the near future, City Manager Rachael Tabelski said Wednesday. It will be working with arena operator Matt Gray and Batavia Sports Facility Management, LLC,, to plan for this improvement and looking for other options for financing, such as grants.
The chiller system is maintained through a contract with Carrier Commercial Services, Tabelski said. Carrier told the city on Oct. 5 that multiple leaks were found in the arena’s aging refrigerant system.
“Once it was discovered that the system was losing refrigerant, the director of public works, Brett Frank, and superintendent of water and wastewater, Michael Ficarella, called a meeting with the rink operator (Gray) and his team, Carrier and city representatives,” Tabelski explained. “Immediately after the meeting the city approved the expenditure, as an emergency purchase, to add refrigerant to the chiller to keep it operational.”
The cost of the emergency refrigerant purchase was $21,950. At a future business meeting, the City Council will consider using ice rink repair fund money to cover the cost of the purchase.
During Monday’s Council session, Tabelski said the city continues to discover issues with the ice rink chiller.
“Most recently, we needed to add R22, or refrigerant, to the system in an emergency purchase,” she said. “We were scheduled to do some renovations of locker rooms at $170,000 capital cost. We’re holding those funds because we believe in the next year we need to address the whole chiller system. If we don’t have ice, the locker rooms will be no good.”
Ficarella said the refrigerant, ultimately, is what creates the ice.
“Upon those leaks, it drained out most of the system, so in order to get the system up and running, to keep it up and running, we had to purchase 360 pounds of refrigerant, I believe it was. Even at that, it still could use more, but it got us back to where we’re operable at this point ...” he said.
Councilmember Tammy Schmidt asked if the leaks were fixed before the new refrigerant came in, because it would get expensive to keep having to add refrigerant. Ficarella said the leaks were fixed.
“At that point in time, we didn’t know these leaks were present. when the system was shut down last year,” Ficarella said.
Frank reiterated that the system is fixed for now, but added, “If anybody’s ever had the privilege of going in that back mechanical room ... it’s not a lie to say that’s a ticking time bomb back there an that’s really got to be addressed in the future.”
Schmidt said she knows the locker rooms are in need of repair.
“I hope we’re not just going to spend all the money on refrigerant and not do those locker rooms at all,” she said. “We want to be proud of that rink, because I think he’s (Gray) going to make it grow like they’re making the Muckdogs grow.”
There have been improvements already since Gray took over, Schmidt and Frank said.
“I think you’ll continue to see that,” Frank said. “Now, we’ve got a great relationship with my office, Mike’s office, (city) manager’s office. We work with them daily. We’ve got a maintenance log.”
Councilmember-At Large Bob Bialkowski said he went through the rink two years ago and it was totally unattended.
“I’m happy to see local people now that are accountable running things,” he said.
Bialkowski asked how old the chiller system is. Frank said it’s hard to pin down the system’s age, but the consensus from city leaders Monday is that it is the originally-installed system.
“We did a compressor replacement (a few years ago), but we just found out this past month that that compressor hasn’t been turned back online because they never actually got it working. We added refrigerant last year,” City Manager Rachael Tabelski said. “When Michael and Brett talk about the increased communication and relationship ... We’re going to keep running into those things because we’re going to continue to find places that might not have been maintained to the level they need to be for operations to continue.”