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Energy contract will extend life of town ice rink

Sometimes you score a goal just by taking a shot and letting the puck find the net.

It's an analogy that fits at West Seneca's deteriorating ice rink, which will get a new 30-year lease on life thanks to a portion of a creatively configured $9.3 million energy performance contract between the town and John W. Danforth Co.

Town officials -- and hockey players and coaches -- have known for years that the ice rink was on its last legs. A refrigeration network described as "rigged with paper clips and bubble gum" will keep the ice cold for only so long.

Previous cost estimates to repair the rink ranged from $2.5 million to $14 million. By Sept. 21, the nearly 40-year-old rink will be back up to standards with nary a taxpayer dollar spent.

"We're going to do this the right way," Supervisor Sheila M. Meegan said of the town's energy contract with Danforth. The contract will not only see the ice rink's mechanics restored but also provide more than $6 million in upgrades to aged or broken-down equipment in the town's sewers. The way the contract is structured will ensure the project is "budget neutral."

"This is not going to involve or should not involve any increase in taxes," Councilman Eugene P. Hart said earlier this week when the Town Board unanimously approved the contract with Danforth.

That can happen through energy savings and operational efficiencies that the upgrades will create, according to T.R. Casamento, an account executive with Danforth, who outlined the scope of work it plans to do for the town during a 40-minute presentation.

"The savings we are creating by doing these improvements meet or exceed the project," Casamento said, explaining that the town will begin realizing the savings "immediately" in the form of lower utility costs and operational efficiencies.

The overall "useful life savings" created through the project are estimated to be $17.9 million, according to Danforth's figures.

As an added bonus, the project also is expected to create about 200 temporary jobs, many of which will come from local companies or from the West Seneca BOCES program, officials said.

Besides the rink work, Danforth's other recommendations include improving several sewer pump stations that are undersized or have fallen into disrepair, fixing sewer flow problems and using more energy-efficient lighting.