Local News

Park board reviewing proposals from two firms for ice arena work

The Homewood-Flossmoor Park District is expected to select a project manager early in the new year to oversee H-F Ice Arena improvements.

Parks Executive Director Debbie Kopas told the commissioners at the park board’s Dec. 21 meeting, that two firms are being considered for the construction manager’s job. The firm would be responsible for all aspects of replacing the refrigeration system.

The park district was forced to shut down the ice arena Nov. 21 after soft spots were discovered in the main rink. Efforts to find leaks in the ice making system failed, so the park district was forced to shut down the facility.

The plan is for the entire refrigeration system to be removed and updated. The ice arena has a system of pipes that fill with the chemical R-22 to freeze the water that makes the ice rink.


The park commissioners have been discussing updates to the ice arena since 2017, knowing that the refrigeration system was outdated. R-22 is being phased out because it is believed the coolant is one of the substances causing depletion of the ozone layer.

The building also needs updates, including a new roof, a new HVAC system and a new dehumidification system. The facility first opened in 1974, and last went through a major update in 1995.

Kopas said the park district staff doesn’t have the expertise necessary to take on the refrigeration system project, so now they are comparing bids from the two construction firms. Both have experience working on ice rink projects. The difference is in the contracts they offer. One proposes a 12-month contract with all costs included, and the other offers an eight-month contract with charges for various work.

The bulk of the preparatory work will be done before anything is done at the rink, Kopas explained.

“The hard part is getting it designed, getting the bid specs and the permits” so the park district can go out to bid.

The state of Illinois also has a law that allows a park district to avoid a request for proposal (RFP) for an architectural firm if the district has a relationship with a firm already. Kopas said the H-F Park District has used two architectural firms in the past, and she would recommend the commissioners chose one of those firms.

Kopas said the one addition to the rink work she would recommend is converting the ice arena front doors to electronic doors that open automatically. The park board may also have to install a new HVAC system because the current system is tied to the refrigeration system.

The park board still needs to address the building’s overall needs, including a new roof. A 2019 estimate was between $3.5 million and $4.9 million. That included the refrigeration system replacement work.

For now, the commissioners are focused on getting the facility up-and-running in as quick a time as possible.

“The goal is for additional enhancements for the facility to hopefully be funded using the park grants and other sources,” Commissioner Steve Johnson said.

The park board is hoping the state will offer grants through the Illinois Park and Recreation Facility Construction Act in 2022.

News by email

Please enable JavaScript in your browser to complete this form.

Free weekly newsletter

Please enable JavaScript in your browser to complete this form.
Most read stories this week