Framingham Town Manager, in a report to Selectmen, said the Town of Framingham plans to re-bid the Loring Arena renovation project in September.
Overwhelmingly, Town Meeting voted (106-35-7) in 2015 to approve spending $5. 7 million to renovate the skating rink that opened in 1963, after the Framingham High hockey team won the state championship in 1961.
There were seven bidders ranging from a high of $7.8 million and a low of $6.23 million. G.V.W. was the low bidder.
Framingham Town Manager Bob Halpin said the much higher than anticipated bids were a “disappointing setback for the renovation of this important town asset.”
Halpin wrote that Town now has had “time to regroup, strategize and discuss internally how to move forward. We will be preparing a plan over the summer in anticipation of bringing this project back to town meeting in October 2016 for further consideration. In preparing the plan we will look at value engineering approaches that will reduce price without compromising functionality; seeking a supplement appropriation to close the remaining gap; and whether we can be successful in fundraising. We plan to rebid the project in September so that whatever is presented at the Special Town Meeting is in fact the project cost based on the received bids.”
The proposed renovations include creating both a girls and boys locker room, as opposed to the current unisex one, and improving handicapped access.
It has been suggested that the Loring Arena Legacy Foundation raise the additional money, like the Framingham Library Foundation raised $600,000 towards the construction of the new Christa McAuliffe Library branch that opened earlier this year. That was not mentioned in Halpin’s memo to Selectmen.
Framingham State University, whose hockey team uses the rink, donated money towards the renovations project already.
The rink is used from about 5 a.m. to after 11 p.m. for about 7 to 8 months of the year. Numerous hockey programs, Framingham Parks & Recreation’s learn to skate programs and public skating is available at the rink.