Newark Mayor Bob Diebold expects his request to skate right through city council Monday, when he'll ask to spend hundreds of thousands in proposed grant money on the ice arena and wastewater-plant upgrades.

Newark Mayor Bob Diebold expects his request to skate right through city council Monday, when he'll ask to spend hundreds of thousands in proposed grant money on the ice arena and wastewater-plant upgrades.

The city is looking to secure $226,355 in Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds to continue renovations to the Lou & Gib Reese Ice Arena on Sharon Valley Road. Another $293,000 in CDBG funds would be sought to pay for an upgrade at the city's wastewater-treatment plant to recover methane gas produced by waste products and reuse it as a natural-gas substitute.

"These are projects that are easy to understand," Diebold said after council's service committee met May 26 to discuss both issues. "The service committee has approved them."

The CDBG funds for the ice arena would come from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to pay for energy-efficiency upgrades at the ice arena, thus reducing utility costs and allowing for the center to be open all year for so-called "dry-floor," or non-hockey events, community development director Judith Carr told the service committee. June 5 is the deadline to submit a proposal for the project.

The block-grant money for the treatment plant would come from the U.S. Department of Energy for a biogas recovery system to be installed at the plant, Carr said. The city would have to provide $293,000 in matching funds. The deadline for submitting a proposal for that project is June 25.

"I think they're both very worthwhile projects," Councilman David Rhodes told Carr during the meeting.

Councilwomen Shirley Stare and Irene Kennedy questioned using block-grant money for the ice arena.

"I'm not opposed to this. I think it's a good idea," Stare said. "I'm just thinking about places in the city that are old, rundown and really need (more) attention" than the ice arena.

According to the HUD Web site, the CDBG grants are issued annually to "larger cities and urban counties to develop viable communities by providing decent housing, a suitable living environment and opportunities to expand economic opportunities, principally for low- and moderate-income persons."

Kennedy asked who could use the arena if it were open year-round.

"How would you offer something to low- to moderate-income families?" Kennedy said.

Alan Hoffman, head of the Newark Sport and Event Commission, told the committee that upgrading the ice arena by doing such things as improving the air-conditioning system and installing a low-emissivity ceiling to reduce heat from the roof would allow summertime use for such activities as recreational camps for children. Those camps would be open to families from all walks of life, he said.

"We hate to see it (the arena) sit idle during the summer," he said. "We can have it as a venue during summer months."

Although no specific plans are in place, Carr and Hoffman told committee the arena could become a medium-event center and would be an alternative to places like The Works, Adena Hall at OSU Newark and Cherry Valley Lodge's CoCo Key resort. They said a corn-hole tournament, open to the public, that was held at the ice arena this month couldn't be done during hot summer months without the needed upgrades.

Carr said block-grant funds may be invested in projects that help spur economic development, energy efficiency and creation or retention of jobs.

"This is a shovel-ready project that will permit the facility to be open year-round," she said.

The treatment-plant project involves the installation of the bio-gas recovery system.

Carr estimated that once in operation, up to $34,300 in methane gas could be converted into a natural-gas substitute annually and sold at retail to industrial, commercial or residential customers or sold wholesale to other utilities.

Revenue generated could be used to help expand the city's sanitary-sewer system or to reduce future rate increases, she said.