First Arena future in doubt in downtown Elmira after review
Necessary infrastructure repairs, a build-up of mold and safety issues were just some of the concerns the Chemung County IDA identified as impediments to the sale of Elmira’s First Arena.
Rising repair costs have also sparked debate over the possible demolition of the 20-year-old arena.
The IDA passed a resolution Thursday, the next step in the attempted downtown sale, which was operated by CAN-USA and Robbie Nichols until an agreement expired on July 16.
A preliminary inspection of the facility conducted by the IDA revealed several challenges that the board said should be addressed immediately, which said some of the issues could hinder a sale or lease.
The issues included door locks, HVAC maintenance, roof repair, rodent control, mold clearance, and fire alarm issues.
The solution included confirmation of the cost to replace the locks, which had already been done, and an immediate call for help to repair the fire alarm systems, as well as cost estimates for other issues.
The locks were valued at $1,200-$1,400 according to the board, and members said the fire alarms violated the building’s insurance policy.
Chemung County IDA Treasurer Thomas Carr said he originally put forward the idea of demolition to be included in the estimates.
“I think it’s going to be really hard to move forward based on what I’ve seen and what I think it’s going to cost to fix that building,” said Carr, adding that she compared the cost of demolition versus the cost. need to know about maintenance. especially with the challenges of increasing revenue with the facility.
David Sheen, chairman of the Chemung County IDA, said he was told it would cost $6-8 million to upgrade the arena to business mode.
Nichols said the IDA has still not contacted him. Previously, Nichols’ attorney reached out on July 13 about the expiring agreement, but they said they never received a response.
“The arena was in much better shape when I left than when I found it,” Nichols said. “They can make ice on two ice shelves, which they couldn’t before. Enforcement of the code has come through and has given the building a blessing; they have conducted regular inspections.
“You can’t open without a letter from the fire department giving you permission to open. They checked the entire building. I spent a lot of money and it was never reimbursed by the CCIDA.”
Nichols did not agree with the thought of tearing down the arena.
“That they go to extreme lengths to waste taxpayer money to get a quote (to demolish the building), I think is extreme,” Nichols said. “It’s a shame, it’s a shame. Think of the children and all the people who use the arena.”
Bait traps on the outside of the facility need to be replaced and mouse droppings are in multiple areas of the facility.
The IDA’s PowerPoint presentation included images of traps that had not been groomed, as well as photos of offices where rodents were found on tables and desks, Sheen said.
Several areas in the arena, including floors and the practice track, appear to be covered in mold due to the HVAC system and fan units being turned off for an extended period of time.
The IDA showed images of massive amounts of mold throughout the building and said there is a large build-up of mold in the locker rooms.
HVAC units must be evaluated, maintained and operational to handle mold and air quality.
The IDA showed images of the external HVAC systems that Sheen said are in need of maintenance and they have been unable to access the computer systems.
When Nichols was asked for comment, he said the CCIDA had not looked for the passwords.
There are multiple leaks in the roof, according to an assessment conducted by Hunt Engineering, and it needs to be replaced.
The IDA showed photos of leaks in the arena and of weeds growing in the gutters.
The fire alarm system has multiple faults throughout the facility, and the IDA does not know if the necessary parts are available due to the age of the system, which officials have labeled obsolete.
The IDA said a temporary facility worker will be required to meet the facility’s initial needs.
“We need to find someone who can work on this facility or take care of all these things,” the IDA said. “We don’t have IDA staff and this isn’t a provincial position to try to keep the facility’s needs up to date to even be able to showcase it to try and impress someone with all we have to offer .”