The Huntsville Curling Club is starting its next phase of renovations, this time focused on accessibility.
Club President Ron Kreutzer presented to Huntsville General Committee on Wednesday, making two asks: to waive roughly $650 in building permit fees, and to help replace the stairs leading to a town-owned parking lot.
According to Kreutzer, the club wants to move the main entrance from the side of the building to the front, and make room for an accessible elevator. There is a front door already in place, but Kreutzer said it leads to an ice technician workshop that would need to be relocated.
He said the building was last rebuilt in 1951, after being destroyed by a fire, and completed structural and rink upgrades in 2021.
“When you think about it, 70 years ago there really wasn’t a lot of thought put behind accessibility,” said Kreutzer. “As a result, in our current building we have a lot of tight doorways, a lot of tight hallways, steps, multiple layers. So that makes the reconstruction to make an accessible facility very complex and very costly.”
For the stairs, Kreutzer pitched a set of granite steps with railings on both sides, estimated at around $10,000. While there would not be a ramp on those stairs, he says there would be accessible parking spots at the front of the building. Kreutzer asked the town to either replace the stairs or give funding to the club to do it themselves.
“We actually put up some temporary wooden stairs a number of years ago,” said Kreutzer. “Those stairs were never meant to be permanent. And in fact, when we had construction on Veterans Way over the course of the fall, there was a little bit of damage done to them. While they [repaired] it somewhat, it has certainly reduced the lifespan of those stairs.”
While councillors expressed support for waiving the fees, the price tag for the stairs was a sticking point.
“I have no difficulty with waiving the permit fees to help you become fully accessible. I do have a problem with the $10,000 stairs, though. You could replace those woodens stairs about six times for $10,000,” said Councillor Bob Stone.
“I don’t think I can support the stairs, per se, but I can definitely support the building permit,” agreed Councillor Scott Morrison.
In the end, councillors voted to waive the building fees, but have town staff come back to council with less expensive options to replace the stairs.