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An estimated 500 people on hand for the ceremonial groundbreaking of the new $12 million ice arena Monday night shared a vision.

Officials of the Jamestown Center City Development Corp., the private developer constructing the dual-rink facility, hope it will be the first step for revitalizing the city's west side.

Agency President Charles Hall stressed this point while addressing the crowd.

"We believe the ice arena will breathe new life into downtown Jamestown and regenerate the activity needed to keep the heart of our region strong," Hall said.

Thomas Cardman, director of the Gebbie Foundation, said he hopes the project receives the go-ahead from the state Department of Environmental Conservation within the next six weeks.

At issue, according to Cardman, is contamination of a section of land bordered by West Second, Third, Lafayette and Jefferson streets that used to be the site of a gas station.

"The thing that's holding us hostage right now . . . is the remediation that has to be done on-site," he said. "We know we have to do remediation, we just don't know how extensive it has to be."

Of the project, Cardman said: "It's something that a lot of people have worked a long time to do, even people before this effort started a year ago. This is a satisfying first step."

City officials are banking on the ice arena's spinning off new business, such as a hotel-convention center, theater complex and restaurant.

And Mayor Sam Teresi urged those who are quick to point out what's wrong with the community to pay attention.

"I think that this is a good example of what's right about this community -- not just pulling off a project, but the way it's being done, with so many people coming together," said Teresi, who pointed to the cooperation of private and public sectors.

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