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Whitetail course has buyer

December 08, 1999|By RICHARD F. BELISLE, Waynesboro

MERCERSBURG, Pa. - The Hummelstown, Pa., General Authority, an agency created last year with the authority to issue tax-exempt revenue bonds, is trying to buy the golf course under construction near Whitetail Ski Resort, an agency member said Wednesday.

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The Mercersburg General Purpose Authority had been negotiating to buy the golf course with its builder, the Dauphin County (Pa.) General Authority, but appears to be out of the running, according to Mercersburg Borough Manager Jim Leventry.

Michael O'Keefe, borough manager for Hummelstown, a community of 4,000 near Harrisburg, Pa., said the Hummelstown General Authority has an option and purchase agreement with Dauphin County to buy the 250-acre golf course on Blairs Valley Road.

Construction of the course is nearly complete. It is scheduled to open sometime next summer, said Greg Ricci, executive director of the Dauphin County General Authority.

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The Mercersburg General Purpose Authority tried to buy the golf course and ski resort as a package earlier this year. The deal fell through when Mercersburg failed to sell the tax-exempt bonds needed to buy the property.

Whitetail was sold to Snow Time Inc., owner of Ski Liberty in Fairfield, Pa., and Ski Roundtop near Harrisburg, for $13 million on Sept. 29. The golf course was not part of the deal.

Ricci said he didn't know how much Hummelstown would be paying for the golf course. Leventry said the Mercersburg General Purpose Authority figured the selling price would range from $6 million to $7 million, depending on how much Dauphin County had in it. The new deal with Hummelstown includes some additional land.

Ricci said Mercersburg has had eight months to put its funding package together. He likened the deal to a homeowner selling a house. If a prospective buyer can't come up with the money in eight months, it's time to look for a new one, he said.

"That's why Hummelstown stepped in," he said.

O'Keefe said the idea to buy the golf course was first proposed to Hummelstown officials by Thomas Fowler of Public Finance Consultants Inc., of Harrisburg. Fowler also advised Mercersburg officials in putting together their deal on the golf course, Leventry said. He said Fowler has not returned phone calls from Mercersburg officials trying to learn the status of their proposal.

Fowler did not return calls for comment Wednesday. A woman who answered the phone in his office said he was on another line.

Ricci said earlier that a convention center would have to be built near the golf course if it is to succeed.

O'Keefe, who is also a member of Hummelstown General Authority, said there has been no discussion of a convention center during negotiations on the sale of the course. "We are not actively considering it at this time," he said.

Ricci said the course will be open to the public.

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