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Ice rink gets 4th extension on credit line

May 27, 1998|By JULIE E. GREENE

Hagerstown officials agreed on Tuesday night to give the nonprofit group operating the city's ice rink some breathing room as it tries to negotiate a solution to its financial troubles.

City Council members voted 5-0 on Tuesday night to extend for the fourth time the due date on a $75,000 line of credit to the Washington County Sports Foundation.

Repayment was due next Monday. The loan is now due on July 1.

Foundation officials said they are optimistic they can negotiate two separate loans worth a total of $475,000 for the rink by that time.

Councilman William M. Breichner, a foundation board member, said before the meeting that he expects this to be the last extension sought by the foundation.

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Foundation officials are meeting with bank representatives today to continue negotiating for a $250,000 loan from four local banks. Officials would not identify the banks.

Council members have indicated they are willing to loan the foundation $225,000 in order to restructure existing debt to the city, according to Breichner and City Finance Director Al Martin.

The city and private loans are contingent upon each other, foundation and city officials said.

While council members approved the loan extension on Tuesday without any discussion, Martin said they had discussed the matter behind closed doors as part of loan negotiations.

The city and private loans are the last financing needed to pay for construction of the $2.3 million rink at the Fairgrounds, foundation officials said.

The $225,000 loan city officials are considering would create a new repayment schedule on debt the foundation already owes the city for construction costs, Martin said.

The city, which owns the rink, contributed a total of $1.2 million for the rink's construction, which the foundation is repaying in $10,000 monthly payments.

Foundation officials will begin a four-year campaign to raise $200,000 this summer for rink improvements and operating costs, Foundation Chairman Gary Wright said.

When the rink opened in August 1997 it was underfunded, leading to the ongoing financial troubles, Breichner said.

There is more work to be done at the rink, but that will wait until the money is available, Wright said. Finishing the interior of the rink with new showers and locker rooms is expected to cost about $60,000, he said.

"We just don't feel comfortable in spending any more money until we have it in hand," Wright said.

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