Arena repair project requires additional $175K

Crews found unexpected problems with the boards around Pine Valley Ice Arena, but projects that came in under budget for other repairs at the arena mitigate the impact on the project’s budget.

Construction crews found some unexpected damage while installing new plumbing in the floor of Pine Valley Ice Arena, requiring up to $175,000 in additional costs for the project. (File/Pine Journal)

The Cloquet City Council approved up to $175,000 in additional repairs at the Pine Valley Ice Arena during its meeting Tuesday, Sept. 1 after construction crews discovered previously unknown damage during its meeting.

In July, the council approved nearly $1 million in repairs to Pine Valley, also called the “Barn,” and Northwoods Credit Union Arena — including $626,000 to replace the plumbing in the floor and upgrade the cooling plant to an indirect system at Pine Valley and upgrade the dehumidification system at NCUA.

Crews found two surprises, said Cloquet Public Works Director Caleb Peterson. There was no consistent anchoring system below the dasher boards and many of the boards are “rotting significantly,” he said.

“What that means for the project is that the new floor system that is proposed to go in needs to be anchored to something,” Peterson said. “It will expand and contract firmly as coolant moves through the system, so it has to be anchored to keep it in place to ensure ice quality. We have nothing to anchor to.”

The added repairs will also require the demolition and reconstruction of a walkway and concrete curb in the arena.


Peterson told the council if they decided to replace the boards in the future, it could require replacing the plumbing in the floor again in just a few years.

“If we were to ever decide that those boards need to go, it would essentially cancel out all the work you're doing here,” he said. “All that plumbing would have to go to because there is no way to get equipment into our workers onto that stand floor and protect the underlying plumbing that you're investing (in).”

While the added cost of the boards and repairs is a surprise, the council set aside more than $1.1 million in local option sales tax money and bids came in below the estimated cost, leaving nearly $170,000 to use for unexpected expenses, according to City Administrator Tim Peterson.

“Keep in mind that the net effect to the budget is somewhere between $5,000 and $6,000,” Tim Peterson said. “This is a surprise, yes. But we've had some surprises go the other way in this project, as well. But we do need to try to move forward ... We're already delaying and butting up with the hockey season as it is.”

Council to consider new chicken ordinance

The council also instructed city staff and the Cloquet Planning Commission to develop an ordinance that would allow chickens on quarter acre lots throughout the city.

The council initially discussed allowing birds on half acre lots in the suburban residential and single-family residential zones in the city, but after some back and forth, each council member expressed support for reducing the required lot size to keep chickens.

Mayor Roger Maki said his property in Ward 3 would be eligible for chickens under the quarter acre rule, but a lot that size is “rare” for his neighborhood in Cloquet.

The ordinance the council discussed would also require those who apply for a license to keep chickens to get the approval from 75% or more of their neighbors.


“It would allow a lot of chickens throughout the community, which I think is something that we've been hearing from people is that they don't necessarily want it by district,” Tim Peterson said. “But I think the council — at least in the conversations that I've had — is still wanting to guard at least a little bit against having chickens in the smallest of lots in the most densely populated areas.”

The Planning Commission will now take over the process, drafting a formal ordinance and scheduling public hearings to allow residents to weigh in.

Jamey Malcomb has a been high school sports reporter for the Duluth News Tribune since October 2021. He spent the previous six years covering news and sports for the Lake County News-Chronicle in Two Harbors and the Cloquet Pine Journal. He graduated from the George Washington University in 1999 with a bachelor's degree in history and literature and also holds a master's degree in secondary English education from George Mason University.
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