Major ice arena components still come with major wait times

MORGANTOWN — BOPARC’s plans for the Morgantown Ice Arena have changed significantly since this time last year. 

But a couple things have remained constant. 

One, the mechanical heart of the facility, comprised of the chiller and the dehumidification unit, must be replaced. 

Two, nobody is getting either one of those things in a hurry. 

The Board of Park and Recreation Commissioners voted unanimously this week to purchase a chiller for $195,680 from Trane Manufacturing and a dehumidification unit from CDI Products for $198,950. 

It’s expected the chiller could be delivered in mid-September at the earliest; the dehumidification unit is probably a year or more from Morgantown. 

“It would be the expectation that we would be having them installed in the spring of 2025,” BOPARC Executive Director Melissa Wiles told members of the board. 

Wiles said both bids represented the lowest price and were either the fastest (chiller) or a close second in terms of anticipated delivery date. 

“It’s standard operating procedure now, post-COVID. I don’t know if it will ever change,” she said. 

It was unpredictable lead times for equipment that prompted BOPARC’s short-lived decision last December to cancel the 2023-24 ice season in order to focus on a complete overhaul of the old arena some six years in the planning.   

That decision drew the immediate ire of the local hockey community, which came out en masse against the project, citing the $15 million price tag among the reasons BOPARC should reconsider. 

And that’s ultimately what happened. 

In February, the body rejected the lone bid for the work and opted to start again, focusing more on community and recreation while Mylan Park explored a project to satisfy the needs of competitive sports teams and leagues. 

In addition to the new mechanicals, BOPARC already has a $520,000 grant through West Virginia’s Land and Water Conservation Fund to replace the building’s roof. 

Wiles said that work will be done in conjunction with the chiller and dehumidification unit installation. 

Beyond the necessities, BOPARC is still working out exactly what it wants to address and how much it wants to spend on the arena, which began life in 1978 as a canopy over an outdoor sheet of ice.

“Our designated priority is with things like upgrading the visitor experience.  So, for instance, improvements to our party room spaces, customer service areas, locker rooms.  We’d also like to still be able to consider items that will prolong the life span of our services, like an internal Zamboni dump,” Wiles said.  “It’s still early in the next phase of planning, so we haven’t determined to what extent we can accommodate this list, but we are working toward that.” 

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