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City council okays White Park skate house money, sets hearing for tannery site contract change

  • A rendering of the White's Park Skate House. Courtesy—Concord Parks & Rec

  • The old White Park skate house as seen on June 11, 2018. The Concord City Council approved $1.15 million in funding for the construction of a new skate house, with half the money to come from fundraising. Caitlin Andrews—Monitor staff

  • The old White Park skate house as seen on June 11, 2018. The Concord City Council approved $1.15 million in funding for the construction of a new skate house, with half the money to come from fundraising. Caitlin Andrews—Monitor staff

  • The old White Park skate house as seen on June 11, 2018. The Concord City Council approved $1.15 million in funding for the construction of a new skate house, with half the money to come from fundraising. Caitlin Andrews—Monitor staff



Monitor staff
Tuesday, June 12, 2018

After more than a decade, White Park will soon once again have a working skate house.

The Concord City Council approved $1.15 million to be used on the construction of the building during a regular meeting Monday night. The construction process is expected to begin in mid-July with a finish date in January 2019.

While about half of the project’s money will come from the general fund, the rest is expected to be funded through community donations, and outside groups have already raised some cash. The Black Ice Pond Hockey Association, which throws an annual hockey tourney at the park every winter, has raised $108,000 for the project, and the HL Turner Group has donated around $40,000 in design services, according to a report by Deputy City Manager of Development Matt Walsh.

“This is a community effort to invest in the future of White Park and one that will expand recreational opportunities,” Mayor Jim Bouley said via press release. “White Park is an important asset to the city of Concord, and the addition of this skate house will mean this park will continue to be a valued community resource not only during the winter months, but year round.”

The current skate house was built in the 1950s and has been closed for some time due to health and safety concerns related to moisture, Walsh wrote. It will be demolished to make way for the building.

At 2,285 square feet, the planned skate house is actually smaller than the current skate house’s 2,758 square feet, but the new two-story building would also boast an 1,110-square-foot patio. The new facility will also offer public restrooms, indoor and outdoor fireplaces, a snack bar and a rental shop for ice skates. The second floor will be used for storage, according to Walsh’s report.

Though it’s geared toward skating, the facility will be used for recreational activities throughout the year. It will be available for public and private functions.

About $900,000 was tentatively set aside for the project in 2016 in the fiscal year 2017 budget, with half to be raised through donations. That number increased due to “a very hot construction market, limited availability of subcontractors, cost escalations for some building materials” and the omission of some costs in the original project, such as furnishings, security and other items, Walsh wrote.

Operation of the skate house is expected to cost $32,880 annually and will generate $30,500, according to early numbers in Walsh’s report.

Contract amendments

The city is looking to amend its purchase and sales agreement with the Caleb Group again.

The prospective residential developer of the former Penacook tannery site was the only nonprofit to respond to the city’s request for bids for the annual Community Development Block Grant application process. The $500,000 it seeks is the maximum amount the city could receive from the New Hampshire Community Development Finance Authority, which administers U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development funding.

Securing CDBG money is critical to make the Caleb Group’s project – which would bring 54 mostly low-income apartments to the tannery site at 35 Canal St. – more competitive for federal low-income housing tax credits. The organization has said about 75 percent of the project’s costs would come from said credits.

Now the city is looking to amend its agreement with the Caleb Group so that the city can use the CDBG funds – if they are awarded – to complete demolition and site plan improvements on behalf of the group.

Historically, the city has been able to secure CDBG funds on behalf of another party, according to a May 21 report written by Walsh.

However, “due to a new interpretation of CDBG Rules for projects involving LIHTCs and new construction, the NHCDFA has determined that the Caleb Project would be unable to access CDBG funding directly,” Walsh writes.

Concord is allowed to make improvements to a site and then deed said property to a developer, Walsh continues, because the property is municipally owned.

A public hearing on the contract change and the city’s application for the CDBG funding is scheduled for July 9. The application process for CDBG money ends July 30.

(Caitlin Andrews can be reached at 369-3309, candrews@cmonitor.com or on Twitter at @ActualCAndrews.)