Ice rink could get OK

January 27, 1997


Staff Writer

Construction on a $2.1 million ice rink at the Hagerstown Fairgrounds could begin next month if City Council members approve proposed agreements tonight concerning the rink's construction and operation.

Several council members said Monday they would approve the agreements if their concerns about a recent jump in the ice rink's price tag from the original $1.7 million to $1.98 million had been addressed.

After the council discussed the ice rink last week, the price rose by an additional $151,000, said City Finance Director Al Martin.


Council members said they were concerned about the city's $1.2 million share of the funding being spent before the nonprofit Washington County Sports Foundation raised its share, which has gone up from $500,000 to $931,000.

The project includes a National Hockey League-size rink, bleachers, a pro shop, concession stands, an office, a rental equipment area and a community room, Martin said.

The foundation is responsible for any cost above the city's $1.2 million share, Martin said.

One reason the project's cost rose was because the rink's location near the fairgrounds' stables off Security Road had to be shifted slightly to make it less intrusive to a residential neighbor, according to foundation Director Walter Dill.

The cost also rose because many of the donations received have been in the form of in-kind donations, such as a phone system, alarm system and scoreboard, instead of cash, Martin said.

The foundation has raised $550,000 in cash and in-kind contributions, Martin said.

If the foundation isn't able to raise the remaining $381,000, Dill said he would take out a loan.

Council members are scheduled to vote tonight on whether to approve two of the three agreements needed to carry out the plan.

They also would vote on whether to approve the third agreement - a lease agreement - in concept. Council members cannot officially approve the lease agreement until the city takes ownership of the 68-acre fairgrounds and other details are worked out, Martin said.

The city could complete its $1.35 million purchase of the fairgrounds from Community Center Inc., a subsidiary of the Hagerstown-Washington County Industrial Foundation, as early as February, Martin said.

According to copies of the three agreements, the city would release $400,000 of its $1.2 million in general obligation bonds by April 1 for construction of the rink.

If the foundation raises another $150,000 by April 1, the city would release $280,000 more between April 1 and May 1.

If the foundation raises another $150,000 by May 1, the city would release $280,000 in additional funds between May 1 and Aug. 1.

If the foundation raises funds to cover the remaining costs by Aug. 1, the city would release the remaining $240,000 of its share.

Martin said city officials would have to decide whether to proceed with the ice rink project should the foundation miss any of the funding deadlines.

Proposed agreements between the City of Hagerstown and the nonprofit Washington County Sports Foundation to build an ice rink at the Hagerstown Fairgrounds contain the following:

  • The foundation would repay the city for its $1.2 million share of the project plus interest at 4.79 percent. Monthly payments would be made over a maximum of 15 years. The foundation may make advance payments on the rent.

  • The foundation would be responsible for operations and maintenance costs.

  • The foundation must adequately promote the rink.

  • In lieu of property taxes, the foundation would make contributions to the city to support community parks and recreation.

    Those payments wouldn't be made in the early years because the foundation would save profits to build a reserve fund for equipment replacement and future expansion.

  • In lieu of the city's admissions and amusement tax, the foundation would pay about $55,000 a year, or 10 percent of its gross revenue, to the city to help support other city recreational programs, including maintaining the fairgrounds.

  • The foundation would offer scheduled public open skating times as well as free use of the rink by nonprofit groups. Price discounts would be given to children from low-income families.

  • The foundation would publicly present to the mayor and council every year its rink use statistics and financial information, including salaries, revenues and expenses.

    The group would provide city officials with annual, audited financial statements and copies of all federal and state tax returns.

  • A city representative would sit on the foundation's board of directors.

  • The foundation must maintain 501(c)(3) nonprofit, tax-exempt status throughout the 20-year lease. The foundation has applied for that status.
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