H-F icearena Provided_web
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Park district hopes for $2.5 million grant for ice arena improvements

The Homewood-Flossmoor Park District has submitted an application for a $2.5 million grant to underwrite major improvements to the H-F Ice Arena, 777 Kedzie Ave., in hopes it can also improve the lighting, update the HVAC system and make other changes. Debbie Kopas, executive director, told park commissioners at the regular meeting Tuesday that the application for the Park and Recreation Facility Construction Grant from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources was submitted on Jan. 16. 

The Homewood-Flossmoor Park District is hoping to receive a $2.5 million grant that will pay for converting the refrigeration system that makes ice at the H-F Ice Arena. (Provided photo)

The board hired Wight and Co. in November to assess the project and help develop costs for the work to the HVAC system, lighting and other major improvements. The total bill for the work is estimated at more than $3.4 million.

The grant stipulates a 75/25 contribution. If the park district receives the grant, it will need to come up with 25 percent, or $900,000, Kopas said. 

The park board’s application included letters of support from area legislators, municipal officials and school administrators. 

Beginning Jan. 1, the U.S. will start to meet its obligations under the Montreal Protocol, an international treaty designed to protect the ozone layer. The U.S. is required to reduce the consumption of hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs), a strong greenhouse gas, by 99.5 percent.The park district has known for several years that it would need to change its ice making system. 

A figure skating class is conducted on the big rink at the H-F Park District Ice Arena.
(Marilyn Thomas/H-F Chronicle)

The park district is using the R-22 coolant that is believed to be one of the substances causing depletion of the ozone layer. It is getting more difficult for the park district to find a supply of R-22, commonly known as Freon. 

The park commissioners has been considering how best to solve the problem for several years. The system has been in place from the time the ice arena opened more than 40 years ago. 

Wight also is offering suggestions on the mechanicals of the refrigeration system and the heating, ventilation and air conditioning mechanicals because the current HVAC system runs through the refrigeration system being replaced. Kopas said in addition to the building improvements, Wight will design an addition to the ice arena to house the new mechanicals for the updated ice making system. They won’t fit in the space now housing the refrigeration system.

Members of the H-F Youth Hockey Club practice on the smaller rink at the H-F Ice Arena. (Marilyn Thomas/H-F Chronicle)

The ice arena sits at the north end of the high school property. The parcel was given to the park district by District 233 with the stipulation the ice arena could be used by Homewood-Flossmoor High students. The rink is used during the day by H-F with skating time as part of its gym activities. During the evenings and on weekends, the facility hosts figure skating lessons and ice hockey teams and offers open skating hours.

The ice arena draws youth hockey skaters from many zip codes, said Steve Macri of Frankfort, president of the H-F Youth Hockey organization that has about 130 kids involved in hockey.

“H-F parks provide recreation year round, and from October to March this building is a resource for indoor recreation when we’re in the winter months” and weather limits options for outside sports, said Terry Kreigher of Homewood, a parent with the youth hockey group.

The ice arena also serves as a training center for hockey teams at Homewood-Flossmoor, Mt. Carmel and Providence High Schools. 

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