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City may study ice rink’s leaky roof

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For years, Councilman Jeffrey M. Smith has contended the roof leaks in the Watertown Municipal Arena at the Alex T. Duffy Fairgrounds, despite constant disagreement from city staff.

A torrential downpour July 26 may have helped prove him right.

The storm resulted in major leaks and puddles that day at the arena, causing Parks And Recreation Department workers to dry off the stage, seats, bleachers and floor inside the rink. The building was already set up for Bill Cosby’s performance two days after the storm hit.

Fortunately, the mess didn’t interfere with the comedian’s July 28 show.

But it got the notice of Parks and Recreation superintendent Erin E. Gardner, who reported it to City Manager Sharon A. Addison.

Mr. Smith brought up the subject at Monday night’s City Council meeting when he claimed 21 leaks were found after the July 26 storm.

Responding to Mr. Smith’s comments, City Engineer Kurt W. Hauk said maybe now is the time to hire “a roof expert” to determine what’s happening, although he still believes there may be a problem with the building’s ventilation system that causes the leaks.

Mr. Smith, who frequently visits the rink during hockey season, urged staff and council members to do something about the leaky roof.

“I know what a leaking roof looks like,” he said Wednesday, noting it was frustrating when city staff members refused to believe him about the problem for a decade.

He first noticed the leaks about 10 years ago on what is now a 35-year-old roof, Mr. Smith said.

“It needs to be replaced,” he said, adding that a foam sprayed on sections of the roof several times did not work and leaks continued.

About 10 years ago, the staff came up with a $200,000 to $250,000 cost estimate to replace the roof and then determined a few years ago it would cost about $650,000.

The debate over the roof comes just as the city hopes to obtain state funding to complete a nearly $5.7 million upgrade, which would include some type of roof work. The ice rink will become the home of the Thousand Islands Privateers in the Federal Hockey League next season.

To hire a consultant for the roof, Mr. Hauk said the city will be required to go through a request-for-proposals process. The consultant would also determine how much it would cost to solve the problem, he said.

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