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Former ice rink is sold

July 10, 2003|by RICHARD F. BELISLE

waynesboro@herald-mail.com

Six years ago, the Doris I. Billow Ice Arena west of Waynesboro, Pa., opened at a cost of $2.8 million, including a $500,000 bequest and $250,000 in state tax money.

On Wednesday, the building at 4880 Buchanan Trail East, an empty shell since May 2000, was sold at public auction for $400,000.

The two Chambersburg, Pa., businessmen who bought it - Joseph Tice, a certified public accountant, and Chris Lombardozzi, owner of a stair-making and millworking shop - said they have no immediate plans for the property.

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When the bidding stalled at $200,000, auctioneer Gilbert A. Schwartzman of the Owings Mills, Md., office of Michael Fox International, stopped the auction to confer with Lorie Heckman, assistant vice president of F&M Trust of Chambersburg, which owns the building.

The two spoke privately for about 15 minutes before Schwartzman resumed the sale.

Harold Brake, owner of Charles E. Brake Construction Co. Inc. in St. Thomas, Pa., and Tice and Lombardozzi, began their bidding war. The price inched up by $10,000 increments. When it reached $400,000, Brake dropped out and the property sold to Tice and Lombardozzi on the third call.

Brake said he was interested in the property for speculation and had no specific plans for it.

Tice said he and Lombardozzi entered the bidding with the idea of reopening the building as an ice rink. He said such a plan would have been feasible at $200,000. He said he wasn't sure a rink would be viable at $400,000.

"We're not committed to anything right now," Tice said.

The $400,000 does not include a 5 percent buyer's premium.

Heckman said that while bank officials would have liked to have gotten more for the property, they were satisfied with the outcome.

The property is appraised at $1.2 million, she said.

It includes the nearly 38,000-square-foot steel building served by public utilities, more than 95,000 square feet of paved parking area and 8.25 acres. The land is zoned commercial.

Cumberland Valley on Ice (CVOI), a nonprofit board created to run the rink, borrowed $1.8 million from F&M Trust bank.

Seed money came from the estate of Doris I. Billow, a retired Waynesboro school teacher, who left $500,000 in her will to be spent on an ice rink in the Waynesboro area. In addition, State Sen. Terry Punt, R-Franklin, secured a $250,000 state grant to help build the facility.

The ice-making equipment system was installed at no cost by the former Frick Co. of Waynesboro.

Ground was broken for the rink in June 1997. It opened in December of that year and from then on faced management problems. The rink had four managers during its brief period it was open.

CVOI depended on pledges and donations for the rest of the money, but they never materialized. The board tried to keep the rink going but it was unable to make its mortgage payments.

The bank foreclosed on the property in May 2000 and bought it back at a sheriff's sale. The bank gutted the building, sold off the equipment and listed the property with a real estate agent

When it didn't sell by this spring, the bank put it up for auction.

Washington Township Administrator Michael Christopher was the only member of the original CVOI board present at the auction.

He said the township is willing to work with the new owners whatever their plans.

"Our hope is that the building will become an ice skating rink again," he said.

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