West St. Paul hockey groups will have another year to consider where they might play when the city closes the West St. Paul Ice Arena.

The city had intended to close the 40-year-old rink at the end of this season because it needs a new roof and structural supports estimated to cost $350,000.

But after high school and youth hockey groups asked for more time either to raise money to pay for a new roof or to find another place to play, council members agreed to keep the arena open one more year.

"They just didn't feel like they had enough time to find an alternative plan,'' Council Member Jim Englin said.

The city has warned that while it will keep the doors open, it will not step in if costly repairs arise.

"We are not going to put any more money in it, so if the compressor suddenly fails, then we are out of luck -- that is all there is to it,'' Englin said.

Before allowing the groups to use the arena for another year, the city got an updated evaluation of the roof's condition from the Stantec consulting firm.

Stantec reported March 26 that the exposed areas of the roof arches had not deteriorated noticeably from their last evaluation in 2007 because they had been protected by aluminum caps that kept rain and snow off.

One exception was an arch on the west end of the structure that had been replaced by a steel splint.

Because the splint was to be temporary, it was not painted and is now rusted. But, the report said, "There was no appreciable loss of steel section.''

The wood that had been replaced by the steel now has no stress-carrying capacity at all, Stantec said.

Stantec recommended a long-term fix of the west arch at a cost of between $8,000 and $10,000. It also recommended painting some of the other arches to prevent decay and the quick removal of snow greater than 6 inches from the roof to keep occupants safe.

The city plans to do the recommended painting and snow removal, said Matt Saam, public works director.

Dave Napier, president of the Sibley High School booster club, is leading the charge to solicit private donations to permanently fix the roof, Englin said.

Laurie Blake • 952-746-3287