Skating, hockey clubs fund analysis of Civic Complex systems

Published 9:59 pm Monday, July 18, 2011

By NEAL WAGNER / City Editor

A national refrigeration company will conduct a thorough inspection of the cooling and electrical systems being used at the Pelham Civic Complex’s ice arenas after a pair of local ice skating organizations agreed to fund the study.

The announcement came during the Pelham City Council’s July 18 meeting, during which several members of the Birmingham Figure Skating Club and the Birmingham Youth Hockey Association were in attendance.

During the meeting, the groups’ representative, Greg Darnell, told the council the two organizations pooled their resources to hire the Mobile-based Cimco Refrigeration company to conduct a thorough assessment of the Civic Complex’s ice cooling systems.

After the assessment, the company will present the city with its recommendations, which could lead to utility cost-saving measures at the complex, Darnell said.

“This is a nationally known company. They do work with the NCAA, the professional hockey teams and ice rinks all over the country,” Darnell said of Cimco. “This will be about cutting cost.”

Darnell’s announcement came a little more than three months after dozens of local hockey players and ice skaters attended an April Pelham City Council meeting to protest the possible closing of the Civic Complex’s main ice arena to make room for a proposed fire museum.

During the April meeting, Pelham Mayor Don Murphy told the skaters he would remove the Civic Complex as a possible venue for the fire museum if the skating enthusiasts would help the city make the complex profitable.

Murphy previously said the complex loses an average of about $950,000 per year.

Although the council voted unanimously to accept the clubs’ donation, Councilwoman Teresa Nichols said she would like to see all proposals related to the Civic Complex come from Pelham Marketing Director Eva Shepherd.

Shepherd said she did not know of the clubs’ plan to hire the company until it was brought up in the meeting.

“Procedurally, these proposals need to be channeled through and brought to us by Eva,” Nichols said.

Darnell said he would work with Shepherd to schedule Cimco’s visit, and said he would notify Shepherd of future proposals related to the Civic Complex.

“I would like to avoid any perceived conflict of interest between our group and the management of the rink,” Darnell said. “If anything, if Mrs. Shepherd sees anything afoul with (Cimco), she doesn’t have to schedule it.”

Darnell also said the skaters have also set up a website at for “anyone who has a proposal for the betterment of the Civic Complex” to submit their proposal for consideration.