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New skating rink a dream for owners

October 03, 2002|by RICHARD BELISLE

waynesboro@herald-mail.com

GREENCASTLE, Pa. - A Hagerstown couple has opened iSkate81, a roller rink on the new stretch of Grindstone Hill Road in Antrim Township, the first of what local officials hope will be many businesses along the new commercial corridor between Pa. 16 and Leitersburg Road.

The $700,000 facility is a lifetime dream for Patty Leazier, a 35-year-old South Hagerstown High biology and chemistry teacher, former national speed-skating champion and self-proclaimed "rink rat."

The rink opened last Friday but an official grand opening will be held at the rink at 11440 Grindstone Hill Road Saturday from 1 to 4 p.m., followed at 7 p.m. by a performance by Shannon Conner and her Britney Spears look-alike act.

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Leazier and her husband, David, 43, bought 2.4 acres. Their new 180-by-100-foot steel-frame building includes the maple 75-by-160-foot skating floor, a pro shop, arcade, DJ booth, snack bar, party room, office space and restrooms.

The light show and sound system were designed by Steven Brooks, a family friend. Another friend did the painting and decorating, and another helped lay the carpeting, the Leaziers said.

"We did a lot of the work on the building ourselves," David Leazier said.

"I've been around roller skating since I was 2 and a rink rat since I was 9," Patty Leazier said. "I spent every spare hour at the rink."

She took up speed skating, won some national competitions and teaches the sport to a current class of about 50 young students, she said. "I took 22 of my students to the national competitions and 11 won national awards," she said.

She will continue her classes with two coaches in the new rink. She plans to hold regional competitions there beginning in December.

Speed skating will take up only about 10 percent of the new rink's time, she said. The rest will be open to individual, family, group and party skaters.

The new iSkate81 is one of five roller rinks between Waynesboro and Chambersburg in Pennsylvania, and Hagerstown, Patty Leazier said.

The couple did their own market survey and business plan based on advice from teachers in the business department at Hagerstown Community College.

"We also spoke to people in banks and the business community in Hagerstown and Greencastle," Patty Leazier said.

They considered several sites before settling on Grindstone Hill Road, including the vacant building in Zullinger, Pa., that housed the Doris I. Billow Ice Arena. That facility, paid for in large part with government grants and local donations, folded less than three years after it opened.

The asking price for the ice rink, which is owned by the bank that foreclosed on it, is $1.2 million.

"That's a substantial price for a building with only a shell and a cement slab," David Leazier said.

David Leazier is part owner of a family business that owns the Colonial Motel and Restaurant in Hagerstown and some rental buildings.

The couple said they will not quit their day jobs until they see how the rink does. A full-time manager has been hired to run the rink.

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