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City will seek state funding for ice rink improvements


City officials again will try to obtain funding for nearly $5.7 million in improvements at the Alex T. Duffy Fairgrounds through Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s North Country Regional Economic Development Council.

The project was not funded through the council’s Consolidated Funding Application process last year.

This year’s deadline is July 16 to submit an application “for a priority project” under the second round of funding through the governor’s initiative.

City officials said they will have a stronger application now that the Thousand Islands Privateers hockey team will play its games at the fairgrounds’ ice rink next season.

“I think it beefs up our application,” Mayor Jeffrey E. Graham said.

Last year, the city scored a 14.5 out of 20 in the first round of funding, but officials said they believe they can improve with the next application.

As part of the council’s requirements, projects must produce job-growth opportunities, include private sector investment and transform economic development.

Mr. Graham said that with the Privateers moving to the fairgrounds, the city’s project fits all the criteria. He said he also is convinced the hockey team will bring more activities to the already busy arena.

Councilman Jeffrey M. Smith said the facility “is not just an ice rink, but really a community center.” It holds a variety of events, including concerts with big-name artists, and serves both young and old, Mr. Smith said.

“I think we’ll score well,” he said.

Upgrades at the arena have been a goal of the city’s for a number of years. In 2009, Bernier, Carr and Associates completed a 10-year plan that included replacing the roof, installing a new stage, building additions for a new locker room and space to house the Zamboni, adding a pair of new entrances and making a series of other improvements.

This year, a pool of $750 million in state funding will be up for grabs. Last year, the north country received $103 million of the $783 million awarded to the 10 state regional councils.

Gov. Cuomo launched the program last year as a way to offer a competitive process to distribute state funding.

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