Story last updated at 4:13 p.m. Thursday, July 25, 2002

Rink prospects dimming
by Sepp Jannotta
Staff Writer

The prospects for an ice rink in Homer this winter are skating on thin ice after the Homer Hockey Association abandoned plans last week to get a covered and refrigerated rink built on its Lake Street site for the 2002-2003 competitive hockey season.

At the July 17 meeting of the Homer Advisory Planning Commission, the Homer Hockey Association tabled action on approval of a conditional-use permit for the facility, saying it needed to do more homework, according to hockey association project manager Ron Alderfer.

The original plan, which went through several rounds with the planning commission, had been submitted around the idea that the rink and multi-use facility would be housed in a used steel building that is currently dismantled and stored in Anchorage. A recent inspection of the building raised questions about potentially high costs in making the building a safe and attractive addition to the downtown area, Alderfer said.

"Based on where we were with the reconsideration of the conditional-use permit, we felt we had some more homework to do," Alderfer said.

He added that the hockey association still plans to find funding to build a multi-sport facility on the site and hopes to be back in front of the commission with a new plan soon.

Planning commission member Bill Smith said the advisory commission would happily review a new proposal in the future.

Now, the hockey association board finds itself scrambling to find a place to put an unrefrigerated outdoor rink. Board member Chuck Rockett said the best prospect may well be behind Homer Middle School, where the rink has been in past years. However, there has not yet been a meeting with the school to set that up, Rockett added.

An unrefrigerated outdoor rink puts Homer's hockey programs back in the unfortunate position of having to play all their games in Soldotna or beyond.

"The last two years we haven't had ice, and, unfortunately, the kids have played more games than they've had practices on ice," said Homer High School Athletic Director Chris Perk.

As far as putting in a refrigerated rink, using the ice-making system the association already has in its hands, Rockett said there was little to no chance that would happen this winter.

"It's too late into the season," Rockett said. "At this point, we're going to have to get the board together to discuss our options. But I think it would be too cost prohibitive because we'd just have to move it in a (year or two)."

In the meantime, the hockey program at Homer High School is seeking a replacement for Brett Haus, the head varsity hockey coach for the past two seasons.

The team will also be without two of its best players. Haus is relocating to the Kenai area so his son Levi Goldsby can play there, while Garret Myers, Rockett's son, will also leave Homer to play in Kenai. Both players have aspirations to play beyond high school.

Haus said his decision to move was disappointing because the kids in the Homer High program were just starting to realize their hockey potential.

"I feel we had something going here, but without the facility it's not going to happen," Haus said. "I just can't put my family though another year of travel like we've been doing."

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