AMA Arena

Demolition firm authorized to bring down AMA Arena

 

By Ron Giofu

 

The AMA Arena will be coming down soon, with demolition likely to begin early next month.

The arena, located at 209 Victoria St. S., will be torn down by the Jones Group with town council agreeing to authorize the Jones Group Ltd. to complete the work in a 5-2 vote at the Feb. 13 meeting. Mayor Aldo DiCarlo, Deputy Mayor Bart DiPasquale and councillors Jason Lavigne, Rick Fryer and Leo Meloche.

Total cost of the project was listed as $144,077 with the approved capital budget being $150,000.

Councillor Diane Pouget opposed the motion with Pouget having made an earlier motion that was defeated. Pouget was seeking further information including experience, pricing, methodology and any and all violations against the companies involved in the bidding

Pouget referred to the report from administration that was on that night’s agenda as “inadequate” and sought more information.

“We have nothing here but Jones Group coming in first,” said Pouget. “This is a very heavily populated area. We have to make sure the best group gets the job.”

Pouget added there were several concerns when the former École St.-Jean Baptiste building was torn down on Brock St.

Councillor Joan Courtney also opposed the motion and said there have been issues with the successful proponent in the past. She was concerned about crushing and removal of debris on site but CAO John Miceli said there will be no crushing on site and that it will be trucked away to an approved site.

Miceli noted the report ranks the bidders and noted it was an RFP and not a tender process. He said a committee evaluated experience, the proposed scope and methodology, price and timing.

The Jones Group has been authorized to tear down the AMA Arena. Demolition is expected to start in early March.

The Jones Group has been authorized to tear down the AMA Arena. Demolition is expected to start in early March.

The committee was made up of the manager of facilities, deputy fire chief, chief building official and the financial planning administrator.

Miceli said there was a $47,000 difference between the first and second place finishers and a $49,000 difference between the first and third place finisher. He said municipal bylaws will be followed during the demolition process.

Mayor Aldo DiCarlo added he has not seen the level of detail Pouget was asking for in other similar projects.

“As long as I’ve been here, council has never received this level of detail,” said DiCarlo.

Director of planning, development and legislative services Mark Galvin said the process used “has integrity” and the report “speaks for itself as to what was factored into the decision.”

Old ArenaWEB

Miceli added the current schedule calls for the demolition to begin in the first week of March and is expected to last seven to eight weeks.

“They could take less but that’s what we requested in the RFP,” said Miceli, who added the residents will be notified.

The AMA Arena was originally built in 1970. It was in operation until 2011 when the Libro Centre opened and was used in recent years for storage.

AMA Arena appears to be on borrowed time

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

The former AMA Arena may not be around much longer.

The Victoria St. single pad facility, built in 1970, will be the subject of an RFP to get an idea of what the demolition costs will be. CAO John Miceli said administration wants town council to make an informed decision and the RFP results will give them a sense of what it will cost.

Funds have been set aside in the 2016 budget, he said.

“From our perspective, we haven’t identified a use and there is an engineering review that is going to cost at least $40,000,” said Miceli.

Arenas have to go through engineering reviews every five years, he explained. Performing such a study then tearing the arena down would be a waste of money, he added.

There is no water or hydro at the AMA Arena with insurance costs on the building being “minimal,” said the CAO. There is a concern of letting the building further deteriorate and become a liability, he said.

“I just don’t want to be in a litigious situation if someone gets injured or, heaven forbid, if kids get inside,” he said. “We have to have a game plan.”

Staff that had been working at the former arena has been relocated with stored items within being moved.

Staff that had been working at the former arena has been relocated with stored items within being moved.

While there is a possibility someone in the public can come forward and present another use for the building, Miceli said he wants council to have the information in the new year so they can make an informed decision. He anticipates having a report before town council in late January or early February.

The AMA Arena stopped being used as a recreation venue in 2011 after the Libro Centre opened. It was used as the home of the town’s parks department but staff were cleared out of there in mid-2015.

A “few things of salvage value” remain inside the old arena, Miceli added.

Demolition of the former arena does not appear tied to the possibility of putting a new public high school at the Centennial Park site. Miceli acknowledged the town has identified Centennial Park and the Libro Centre as possible new locations for a new, combined General Amherst and Western secondary school.

“Our plan to demolish the arena was way before (talk of) the new school,” said Miceli. “It is a possibility the school board might want Centennial Park.”

Miceli added he has not been formally contacted by the Greater Essex County District School Board regarding the board acquiring Centennial Park or any other site.

“There is nothing official between the school board and the town,” said Miceli.

Friends and family help Pettypiece celebrate his retirement

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

A journey that started when Dan Pettypiece’s mother Bernie took him to J&R Sporting Goods took a major twist in the road last Friday.

Pettypiece celebrated his retirement with family and friends during an open house at the Libro Centre Friday evening and recalled the trip with his mother and brother Dave to get his first pair of skates at the Richmond St. business, located where LA Hairstyles is at today.

Dan Pettypiece’s retirement from the town was celebrated last Friday with an open house with friends and family at the Libro Centre. Pettypiece started working full-time for the town in 1984 with his career being both at the AMA Arena and the Libro Centre. Pettypiece stands with some of the memorabilia he has  collected over the years including some from players he has coached.

Dan Pettypiece’s retirement from the town was celebrated last Friday with an open house with friends and family at the Libro Centre. Pettypiece started working full-time for the town in 1984 with his career being both at the AMA Arena and the Libro Centre. Pettypiece stands with some of the memorabilia he has
collected over the years including some from players he has coached.

“That was the biggest investment in my life,” he said of those skates. “I owe a lot to my mom for shoving me out the door and getting me to do something with my life.”

Pettypiece learned to skate on Iler Creek and would start playing hockey at AMA Arena in 1973. He began coaching in 1976 and continues to coach to this day and plans to continue with that in his retirement.

Hired as a part-time arena employee in 1979 by the town’s first arena manager Bruno Casanova, he would be ascend to full-time employment in 1984 thanks to not only Casanova’s assistance, but the mentoring he received from fellow employees Bill Jones, Jeff Long and Frank Sustar.

Pettypiece said it hasn’t been a sudden transition into retirement for him, pointing out persistent back problems has had him on disability for much of the last two years.

“The transition from working to not working started about two years ago,” Pettypiece explained.

Pettypiece added it was a “slow transition” into not working and said it got to the point where he couldn’t come back to do the job he loved. A final spin around the ice on the Zamboni was difficult for him, he admitted, as it was a part of his life he enjoyed. Not only did he like the actual cleaning of the ice, but he enjoyed teaching children about how the Zamboni worked.

Pettypiece believes he is leaving on top, noting he was one of the arena employees who took pride in making sure Amherstburg had the best ice in the region. It was a trait he was taught by Casanova and one that continued under Ralph Barnwell.

“We always worked as a team,” he said. “We worked as a team to make our ice the best in the county.”

Pettypiece is also well known for his coaching career, as he has worked with the likes of Kevin Westgarth and Meghan Agosta during his career. He has operated many power skating clinics and hockey schools over his career in order to teach kids the finer points of skating and the game of hockey, which he loves dearly.

There have been challenges in recent years, he said, but Pettypiece said those don’t tarnish all the good times he has had over the years. He said he could never repay the game of hockey for all it has done for him.

Pettypiece recalled his first goal as a player as well as the first goals scored by his children Stacee and Ryan. He thanked his wife Judy for her support over the years as well.

He told the crowd at the open house the story of Corey Meloche, the girl who helped him found the girls hockey team at General Amherst. Meloche died in a snowmobiling accident in 2010 but Pettypiece said she will be with him always.

Seeing former players he worked with having success in coaching is also special to him, with Pettypiece pointing out Scott Hamelin and Glen Holden both helping to guide teams to recent OMHA titles. Hamelin also coaches with Pettypiece with the girls hockey team at General Amherst.

The trophies and medals are important, he added, but loving the game was something he considered the most important.

“I could never repay what the game of hockey has done for me over the last 40 years,” he said.