Ice skating rink chiller also to cool city buildings

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The City of Carmel is spending $5 million to build an ice skating rink at the Center for the Performing Arts Centre Green. Part of the construction includes a chiller machine to keep the ice rink cold for skaters, but the city has found a double use for this purchase: helping cool several buildings, including Carmel City Hall and The Palladium.

The ice skating rink will be surrounded by a Christkindlmarkt, a traditional German holiday market where vendors sell homemade ornaments and treats. It will open Nov. 18 in conjunction with the annual Carmel Tree Lighting Ceremony. Bids will go out soon and construction should begin in July with a fall completion date.

Carmel Mayor Jim Brainard said the ice skating rink needs proper refrigeration equipment, often called a chiller, because Indiana’s weather can vary, even in winter months. Plus, he said machine allows the city to operate the ice skating rink possibly into March.

At the same time, the energy center — a facility that heats and cools multiple buildings near city hall — has needed extra help to keep up in hot summer months. Corrie Meyer, director of the Carmel Redevelopment Commission, said the city has used a temporary chiller, about the same size of what would be needed for an ice skating rink, to add additional capacity at the energy center.

Brainard said the energy center has been unable to keep up in summer months because of a problem with the original engineering. He said the city might sue the original engineers of the energy center because of the problem.

The energy center is a centralized structure that provides heating and air conditioning to The Palladium, city hall, police headquarters, fire headquarters, the Tarkington Theatre and the James Building. It was built with money from the Center for the Performing Arts bonds, but that money was reallocated to finish building the center. Instead of issuing another bond, the Energy Center – then valued at $7.7 million –  was sold for $16.3 million and then bought back for the same price over 25 years with interest. This was done to create a cash infusion to finish The Palladium and finance 25-year payments on the debt.

Brainard said the energy center saves the Carmel on energy payments because the centralized facility is more efficient than having separate heating and cooling units in each building.

Meyer said she couldn’t provide a cost estimate for the ice skating rink cooler because it hasn’t gone out to bid yet.

Brainard said the double use for the chiller will save taxpayer money.

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