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Council vote moves ice rink closer to reality

January 31, 1997

By JULIE E. GREENE

Staff Writer

Hagerstown officials Friday took another step toward bringing a $2.2 million ice rink complex to the Hagerstown Fairgrounds, allowing work to begin on the site as soon as next week.

Now the nonprofit group that will operate the rink must have $600,000 in cash and in-kind contributions before the project gets any city money, officials said. The nonprofit group had been told to have $500,000 available.

City officials had postponed a vote Tuesday on an agreement between the city and the Washington County Sports Foundation because some Council members were concerned that the group had failed to produce proper documentation to confirm it had raised $550,000 in private funds.

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On Friday, Council members voted 3-0 to approve a resolution that formalizes an earlier agreement in principle between the two groups, according to Deborah Everhart, the city's economic development coordinator and zoning administrator.

Councilman Mark Jameson was absent and Councilman Lewis Metzner had to leave the meeting before the vote was taken.

The agreement outlines how much funding the foundation must raise before the city's share kicks in, officials said.

The nonprofit foundation's share of the project is now at $1 million, City Finance Director Al Martin said. The price tag for the project rose slightly from $2.1 million because the city is now including interest on the city's bond that is accumulating during the construction period as well as other costs.

As soon as city staff has verified that the $600,000 is ready, the City Council will convene a special session to vote on a development agreement between the city and the nonprofit foundation, which will eventually operate the ice rink, said Martin.

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

Demolition of the stables at the Fairgrounds off of Security Road, where the complex is to be built, could begin as soon as next week, said foundation Director Walter Dill.

Foundation officials are eager to get some of the city's $1.2 million contribution released because a $150,000 down payment is due Monday to the contractor building the rink portion of the complex.

The foundation's attorney, Michael Day, said he may be able to get C.W. Davis Ice Pro in Syracuse, N.Y., to extend that deadline by giving the company $100,000 of the down payment from private funds.

The foundation must acquire 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status before taking over the rink, Martin said.

If the foundation hasn't received that status by the time the rink is ready to open, the city has three options, Martin said. City officials could pay the foundation to operate the rink until it gets the tax-exempt status, they could allow another nonprofit, tax-exempt organization to operate the rink or the city could operate it, he said.

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