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Arena approves HVAC bid, waiting on lining up funding

Mar. 14—DANVILLE — David S. Palmer Arena officials welcomed about 100 South Vermillion High School students from Clinton, Indiana, Wednesday morning to skate for a couple hours on the arena's ice.

They've been coming each year, said arena general manager Teri Gaffney. "We've seen a lot of schools bring their kids."

Gaffney said she's also hopeful the arena is moving in the right direction to attract even more groups and have more events.

The arena board on Tuesday approved a $909,501 heating, air conditioning and ventilation system contract with Blackie's Heating and Cooling of Danville.

The arena has eight HVAC system units, but six are not functioning. The units were installed in 1999.

Gaffney said they're still working through the finance portion of the project.

She said Blackie's bid was the lowest from options from four different vendors. Bids were as high as $1.7 million.

The arena board had a Champaign firm, after seeking assistance from Danville officials and City Engineer Sam Cole recommending one, help review the bids. Gaffney said they had assistance in writing the project scope, reviewing the building and looking at the arena's needs.

Gaffney said they used the firm's recommended vendor bid.

Also Tuesday night, the Danville City Council's Public Works Committee recommended re-allocating $500,000 in American Rescue Plan Act funding (that was to be for Southern Illinois Healthcare Foundation) to the arena — up to $275,000 for HVAC facility maintenance (any portion remaining shall be allocated to Garfield Park Improvements); Garfield Park Improvements — $170,000; and fire trucks — $50,669.59 additional funds for purchase of Ferrara Cinder Custom Pumper.

The full city council will act on the re-allocations at 6 p.m. March 19 at city hall, 17 W. Main St.

Danville Ward 5 Alderman Mike Puhr said, "that's great we're giving money to the civic center."

Danville Mayor Rickey Williams Jr. said the bids were not explicit as to the work, and with the city helping the arena with a consulting company, the project costs were substantially reduced.

Williams said he appreciated the arena board taking a few steps back to fully review everything.

Gaffney said they're extremely hopeful the Danville City Council approves the re-allocation next week, and the board still is hopeful the county will take action on funding too.

"We're doing our best to make this the best place for the community," she said of the arena and continuing to provide a great location for entertainment for the entire county.

If everything lines up for funding, Gaffney said Blackie's could start one portion of the project in three to four weeks. Supply chain issues could cause delays.

"I firmly believe we're on the right path," Gaffney said.

The arena has several upcoming events.

This weekend, the arena on Sunday night will host the National Junior College Athletic Association players and coaches for a tournament dinner. The basketball tournament starts at Danville Area Community College on Monday.

The arena also will host Second Church of Christ's Easter at the Arena at 10 a.m. March 31, and the arena is working with an Indianapolis company to possibly bring in a comedy show in mid-April.