The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

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October 29, 2013

Arena seeks $100G loan

Unexpected expenses cited

JOHNSTOWN — A lot of items broke down – all in a short period of time – at the Cambria County War Memorial Arena and its sister facility, the North Central Recreation Center.

Two ice-resurfacers, an edger, six glass panes and a scoreboard needed repaired or replaced at the arena within the past 45 days. Meanwhile, there is no way to make ice at the NCRC.

Together, those expenses have placed the War Memorial Authority in a short-term financial pinch. General Manager Tom Grenell estimated that $50,000 to $75,000 is required to cover the costs.

So, on Monday, the governing board voted to seek a short-term loan, not to exceed $100,000.

“I think we’re just hitting a bad time in our legacy,” said Grenell.

Exacerbating the situation, all of the issues dealt with equipment needed for hockey games, right at the time when teams, including the Johnstown Tomahawks, a junior league squad, are using the arena. Some items, such as the ice-resurfacers with a combined 600,000 miles on them and scoreboard, have been repaired.

The NCRC, though, will be without ice for at least a short while, since there are under-the-surface leaks, communication problems within the computerized system and the need to replace 300 to 600 pounds of refrigerant at a cost of $27 per pound. Grenell said the fixes are expensive, but not hard, and that ice could be ready in a week if funds become available.

“The only reason we’re doing it this way is it’s time-sensitive because we’re in the middle of hockey season right now,” said Dean Gindlesperger, board chairman.

“The majority of the breakdowns were ice-related, so we need to get something done quick and get some assurance to the hockey teams that their seasons are not going to be defeated by breakdowns on the ice.”

Cambria County could not directly fund the work at this time because of going through its own end-of-the-year financial difficulties.

“The county is not as bad off as some people might say it is,” said Cambria County President Commissioner Douglas Lengenfelder.

“That being said, there is definitely the issue of a cash flow problem.

“It is the end of the year, so we have to deal with that.”

The plan, though, is for the county to eventually pay off what the authority hopes will be a six-month loan.

Dave Sutor is a reporter for The Tribune-Democrat. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/Dave_Sutor.

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