The Ice Castle slated to return to downtown Stillwater may head to Lake Elmo this year instead.
Ryan Davis, CEO of Ice Castles LLC, told the Lake Elmo city council Oct. 15 that after looking at the proposed site for this year’s castle, they found that the St. Croix River’s high water level would interfere with the structure.
“The park in Stillwater is underwater,” Davis said. “When we were here two years ago, we had to clean up with a boat due to the high water.”
Lake Elmo city administrator Kristina Handt told the council that representatives from Ice Castles and Royal Golf Club — the former Tartan Park — were proposing to move the Ice Castle to the golf club’s driving range or near the clubhouse. A special event permit application was submitted on Oct. 14.
Davis recognized that council had a short time to consider the proposal, and said that they had not yet designed the layout of the proposed attraction.
“October 15 is our normal start time, so we are behind schedule,” Davis said. “Right now, we are looking at a couple different sites.”
Handt told the council that the permit was placed on the council agenda with short notice because the next scheduled council meeting was in November.
Unlike the proposed Ice Castle in Stillwater’s Lowell Park, the Ice Castle at Royal Golf Club would be place on private property. With a city water meter and a one-time $75 permit fee, the city-imposed cost to construct the ice structure would be significantly cheaper in Lake Elmo than in Stillwater. For 10 million gallons of water, the city would charge about $21,000 to the city’s water fund. In the proposal with Stillwater, Ice Castles would pay a daily fee to use the park — totaling around $25,000 — to the city in addition to paying the bill for 10 million gallon of water.
Davis said that of the roughly 40 events put on by Ice Castles, about 20 of them were placed on private property, and that ticketing and size was based on the size of the parking lot available. At the Stillwater City Council, Davis estimated that about 100,000 visitors would come to visit the attraction, but lessened the number to 75,000 visitors to the proposed Lake Elmo castle.
However, unlike in the commercial area of downtown Stillwater, the proposed Ice Castle in Lake Elmo would be in a more remote and residential area. Several neighbors voice, concerns about increased traffic and the castles proposed operations after 9 p.m.
Representatives from Royal Golf Club said that because Ice Castles operates solely on timed tickets purchased online with no walk up ticket sales, the amount of visitors to the Ice Castles would be similar to a fully booked day of tee times. As there is no golf scheduled in winter and fewer or no additional events such as wedding taking place, they argued that traffic would be less than a busy Friday or Saturday during the summer.
The council voted unanimously to approve the special event permit for the Ice Castle, citing a hope that the attraction would have a positive benefit to local businesses.
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