The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

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July 23, 2013

Arena eyes upgrade for ice surface

JOHNSTOWN — Cambria County War Memorial Arena’s ice-making system has long surpassed its life expectancy.

And problems are starting to arise.

Recently the surface has become soft, especially between the blue line and the end boards on the side where the ice-resurfacing machine enters. The floor also has heaved in places. In all likelihood, the entire system, which has been used since the facility opened in 1950, will need to be replaced, according to the arena’s authority.

“No mechanical knowledge has been developed that shows any type of possible way to fix 63-year-old, rusted, corroded pipes that have gone 20 years past their life cycles,” said Tom Grenell, the arena’s acting general manager.

James Vizzini, a representative of CJL Engineering, who has helped the authority on multiple projects, added, “Certainly, everybody who spent that money back in the ’40s got their money’s worth. That’s a heck of a long time.”

Installing a new system could cost between $600,000 and $1 million.

“We believe that we can get a grant,” said Cambria County Commissioner Mark Wissinger.

Authority members plan to spend the next few months developing a plan to fix the floor, secure funding and create a schedule for the work to be done sometime next summer.

“I think we need to get together in a think tank, look over some of this stuff and come up with a solution to the problem,” said Dean Gindlesperger, the authority chairman.

Arena officials had been considering injecting a stop leak into the pipes at a cost of a few thousand dollars. However, the system is losing only 30 to 35 gallons of cooling solution per year. The amount is negligible, considering the system holds 5,000 gallons.

 Vizzini recommended not using the stop leak because he feels it could actually exacerbate the problems.

“It doesn’t seem like that’s the real issue,” said Wissinger. “It doesn’t have a lot of leaks. It’s not losing that much.”

Grenell said the main reason for the soft surface seems to simply be the old, clogged system’s inability to get the ice cold enough.

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