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City and Genesis trade blame for expensive repairs, unusable rink at the Wichita Ice Center

The Wichita Ice Center will have no ice on either of its rinks until mid-July, city officials said Tuesday, marking more than a year of operation at half capacity after a management change that was expected to improve conditions at the main city ​​ice skating attraction.

City officials said on Tuesday that supply chain issues have delayed needed repairs to ice-making equipment and dehumidifiers. In court filings, the city and Genesis Health Clubs, the facility’s previous managers, blamed each other for the costly repairs.

The city council approved a $238,610 bid for a new cooling tower, to replace the one installed in 2019. The council also approved spending an additional $92,400 on dehumidifier rentals, in addition to approximately $50,000 that the city has already spent on rents. Two new dehumidifiers are estimated to cost $300,000 to $400,000 each, said city facilities manager Chris Sewell.

The new cooling tower won’t be installed until mid-July. Dehumidifiers are expected through December.

City Council member Bryan Frye expressed concern about costs.

“Out of the $50,000 we spent from August to January, we’re asking for $92,000 today, so we’re spending half of what it costs on a new one, basically, for rental?” Frye said. “Oh.”

The Wichita Ice Center, built by the City of Wichita in 1996 for approximately $9 million, has an Olympic-sized ice rink and an NHL hockey rink.

The hockey rink has had no ice since July 2022, six months after the city switched management from Genesis Health Clubs to Rink Management Service Corp., following public outrage over lack of maintenance at the city-owned facility under the management of Genesis.

The city also filed a lawsuit against Genesis and its owner Rodney Steven, saying the fitness company failed to maintain the ice center and stopped reimbursing the city for a renovation after making a payment. City officials declined to comment on the lawsuit.

In recent court filings, the city blamed Genesis for ice-making equipment failure that left the ice center operating at half capacity.

“Genesis has failed to perform necessary maintenance and repairs to the Wichita Ice Center facility, including failure to maintain ice-making equipment and major ice maintenance equipment with chemically treated water, causing failure of this equipment in June 2021,” the city lawsuit says.

After hiring contractors to repair the cooling tower “in an effort to remove the calcium buildup caused by Genesis’s misuse of plain water for several weeks prior to the failure, instead of the required chemically treated water,” the company says. cause of the city. “The unit was put back into service after repairs before failing again as of July 2022 due to deterioration and lead in the equipment coils.”

Wichita also alleges in the lawsuit that Genesis failed to vacate the building for three months after the lease expired, and upon release, “agents and/or employees of defendant Genesis removed certain property from the facility – presumably for the Defendant Genesis’ use in other locations not owned by the Council, including locker room doors, the floor and wall-mounted ballet barres.

Genesis last month filed a counterclaim blaming the city for lack of maintenance at the ice center. The counterclaim alleges that Genesis notified the city of problems at the ice center, including ice-making equipment, black mold, HVAC problems, and others, but the city failed to adequately maintain, repair, or replace the ice center. ‘equipment.

“The city has failed to adequately maintain, repair, and/or replace ice-making equipment and major ice maintenance equipment, including the replacement of an approximately 25-year-old ice rink cooler, despite Genesis requests that the city address the same,” Genesis’s counterclaim says. “This led to cooler failure and loss of ice sheets for periods of time. Genesis was forced to install a temporary chiller, the costs of which Council agreed but failed to repay.

The Genesis court filing also said the city rejected its attempts to procure a reliable cooling tower in 2019.

“Regarding this, Genesis bid for a new chiller from a company that had considerable experience and offered a 5 year warranty. Instead of accepting that offer, the city made the baffling decision to spend roughly double taxpayer dollars on a chiller from a company that had never installed one before and only offered a 1-year warranty.” Genesis said in its counterclaim.”The chiller is now out of warranty and already has mechanical problems, including those for which the city claims Genesis is responsible.”

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