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Ice arena to become indoor tennis club

November 18, 2003|by RICHARD F. BELISLE

waynesboro@herald-mail.com

ZULLINGER, Pa. - The building housing the former Doris I. Billow Ice Arena will get new life Dec. 1 when it reopens as an indoor tennis court.

William H. Wissinger of Chambersburg, Pa., has leased the 38,000-square-foot building at 4880 Buchanan Trail East, Pa. 16, from two area businessmen, Joseph Tice, a certified public accountant, and Chris Lombardozzi, owner of a stair-making and millworking shop, who bought it at a July public auction for $400,000.

Wissinger said Monday he is converting the building, which is about three miles west of Waynesboro, Pa., into a four-court indoor tennis facility. It will be open from Dec. 1 through May, 2004 with limited play during summer months, he said. Eventual plans call for making it a year-round facility, he said.

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Wissinger is putting about $80,000 into the venture. On Monday, workers were resurfacing the former ice-skating area.

The facility, to be called The Tennis Club, will have a full-service pro-shop offering apparel, tennis racquets, accessories and repairs, he said. Up to 15 employees will work in the facility.

Wissinger, the tennis pro at the Chambersburg Country Club for 13 years, was until June head pro at the Hagerstown Tennis Club, a facility on Salem Avenue that was covered with a plastic bubble.

The bubble split in half during a tournament and the facility closed down. "It was at the end of its life," he said.

The only other indoor tennis courts in the area are in Carlisle, Pa., and Frederick, Md., he said.

Wissinger said he has more than 300 clients in Chambersburg and Hagerstown. It took years to build up his clientele, he said.

The ice rink opened in December 1997 at a cost of $2.8 million to build and equip.

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 a ice rink in the Waynesboro area. In addition, State Sen. Terry Punt secured a $250,000 state grant to build the facility.

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

The ice-making equipment system, which has since been removed, was installed at no cost by the Frick Co.

The facility was beset with problems from the start, first with management woes when one manager was hired after another only to last a few months.

CVOI, which depended on pledges and donations, could not make its mortgage payments.

The bank foreclosed in May 2000, gutted the building, sold off the equipment and listed the property with a real estate agent. When it didn't sell, it was put up for auction last spring.

News that the building would remain a recreational facility has been well-received.

"I'm pleased to see the building put back into productive use," said L. Michael Ross, president of the Franklin County Area Development Authority and former CVOI member.

Michael Christopher, Washington Township administrator, echoed Ross, saying it's good for the community's quality of life to have the building converted into another recreational facility.

"I've always thought it should be used for recreational purposes," said Carol Henicle, executive director of the Greater Waynesboro Chamber of Commerce. "This will be a very good use for it."

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