By Lorena Rodgers
An uproar over discussion about the Raymond ice arena greeted Raymond Town Council on Tuesday, resulting in Council calling off an open house scheduled for later this month.
The mayor and council emphasized that the open house, planned for January 27 and 28, was only meant to be about ideas for better use of town facilities. Mayor George Bohne spoke of meeting with concerned parties before Christmas and clarifying that council was not considering closing the arena.
Community-members Brian Eakett, Rod Wendorff and Darin Ellington expressed their concerns to council about how information got out and the division created in the community. They also expressed how important the ice arena is to the town and that perception from the proposal is that council is planning to replace the arena with a recreation centre. Consensus was that right now the town is too polarized on the issue to discuss looking toward a recreation centre, even with the arena being removed from the conversation.
Mayor Bohne said the town can’t wait two years to discuss dealing with inefficiencies with the arena, and that if organized meetings can happen with interested parties, an open house wouldn’t be necessary. Bohne said the open house would need to be rescheduled with an organized purpose that does not have residents feel they must choose one facility at the expense of another.
After lengthy discussion, councillor Jim Depew made a motion recommending that the open house would be cancelled and administration continue efforts to keep the ice arena open for the remainder of current council’s term. Councillor Dustin Ralph clarified that council can discuss development of a recreation centre, just not in relation to the arena. The motion passed unanimously.
Some community-members were upset that a concept drawing had been presented, which appeared to say that plans were already moving toward a recreation centre. Councillor Ralph explained that concept drawings are much cheaper than blueprints and are often made so council can visualize ideas that are being presented for discussion and planning.
Those at the meeting who opposed the open house said they were glad it was cancelled, but they were still concerned about misinformation that got out.
Mayor and council encouraged anyone with ideas for making use of the arena more efficient and profitable to talk to administration.