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Billow ice rink property going on auction block

May 30, 2003|By RICHARD F. BELISLE

waynesboro@herald-mail.com

WAYNESBORO, Pa. - The 38,000-square-foot building that housed the Doris I. Billow Ice Arena for two-and-a-half years is going on the auction block in July.

A sign in front of the vacant one-story building on Pa. 16 in Zullinger, Pa., three miles west of Waynesboro, advertises the structure as "a prime commercial facility." It is on 8.25 acres at the intersection with Polktown Road.

The auctioneer is Michael Fox International, a Baltimore-area auction company that has been providing "worldwide service since 1946," the sign said.

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The auction is scheduled for noon on July 9.

If it sells, it will end a saga of ups and downs since ground was broken for the ice rink in June 1997.

The idea surfaced when Billow, a former Waynesboro-area school teacher, left $500,000 in her will to be used toward construction of an ice rink in the Waynesboro area.

Billow's bequest plus a $250,000 state grant secured by state Sen. Terry Punt, R-Franklin, got the project started. A committee, Cumberland Valley on Ice (CVOI) was organized to raise the rest of the money and get the rink built.

Carol Henicle, executive director of the Greater Waynesboro Chamber of Commerce, was CVOI's first president.

The rink, which opened in December 1997, cost $2.8 million to build and equip. CVOI borrowed $1.8 million from F&M Trust bank. The ice-making system was installed at no charge by Frick Co., now York International, in Waynesboro. The committee depended on pledges and donations for the rest of the money to build it.

Henicle said Thursday that the project was underfunded.

"Some of the major pledges that we expected never came in," she said.

The rink, once it opened, had four managers during the time it was open.

CVOI could not make its mortgage payments, Henicle said. It finally reached the point in May 2000 when the bank foreclosed and bought back the facility at a sheriff's sale.

The bank gutted the building, sold the ice-making system, the Zamboni and the rental skates and equipment to recover some of its losses. The building, now empty, was put on the real estate market.

There have been inquiries, some from potential buyers who wanted to reopen an ice rink, but nothing came of them, Henicle said. There was also some interest from local buyers, but they were reluctant to commit to the building because of the controversy surrounding it, she said.

Ken Ditzler, the F&M Trust officer in charge of the sale, also said Thursday there has been some interest in the building, but no one signed a contract to buy it.

The Washington Township Supervisors had thought about the building as a possible site for a new municipal office building, but it doesn't lend itself to such a facility, said Jerry Zeigler, zoning enforcement officer for the township.

He also said there wasn't enough land to serve the township's needs.

Zeigler said the building would not serve as an office complex because of its high ceiling and the lack of loading docks would not entice an owner of a warehouse operation.

"It would be good for a high-tech manufacturer," Zeigler said.

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