NEW: Differences in ice arena project emerge in Watertown’s mayoral race (Audio)

June 7, 2021
Mike Tanner

WATERTOWN, S.D.–Watertown’s mayoral race will be decided in one week, and if you listen to the candidates, there’s a lot they agree on.

Mayor Sarah Caron and challenger Ried Holien agree on the need to improve the quality of streets in Watertown, create more affordable housing, and grow the workforce.

But a big difference has emerged on the proposed new two-sheet ice arena, and specifically, where it should be built.

The announced location by the Ice Arena Committee, which Holien chairs, is a site along Willow Creek Drive, just north of Hobby Lobby.

Mayor Caron tells KWAT News Director Mike Tanner she believes that location is a “risky” site to build on…

The mayor and Holien spoke to the Watertown Kiwanis Club Monday. Caron told the gathering that the ice arena project is, “going down the wrong road.”

But Holien says the road it’s been going down hasn’t changed at all since it was presented to the mayor and city council earlier this spring…

Caron says she doesn’t think it’s necessary to scrap the current plan and start all over, but she does think it needs more scrutiny…

Holien says if the public doesn’t like the plan, they can refer it to a public vote, and he believes the mayor has turned it into a,
“political football” just days before the election…

In a radio ad paid for by Caron supporters, the mayor says Holien has “jumped ship” on the project. Here’s a portion of that ad…

Holien says the ad is, “patently false,” and that he’s still as involved in the ice arena project as he’s ever been…

Holien says the next step in the ice arena development is choosing an architect, and pinpointing an exact cost.

Holien says, “the site is good, the soil is good, and now it’s a matter of coming up with a design.”

The ice arena involves four players: the city, Watertown Development Company, Craig Development LLC of Fargo and J & J Land Sales LLC of Milbank. 

Various organizations, including the Watertown Hockey Association and Watertown Figure Skate Club have already pledged millions of dollars on behalf of the project, and in February, First Premier Bank and Premier Bankcard donated one million dollars. 

The full interviews with Sarah Caron and Ried Holien can be found by clicking below: