First Arena Tenant Still Waiting For Repayment From County

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VESTAL, NY (WSKG) -The tenant at Elmira’s First Arena wants his money.

Robbie Nichols is waiting for reimbursements from the Chemung County Industrial Development Agency, which owns the arena.

Gabe Altieri/WSKG

Gabe Altieri/WSKG

The Chemung County IDA is charged with spurring economic development in the county.

Nichols owns the Elmira Enforcers hockey team, which plays at the arena. He’s pushing to be reimbursed by the Chemung IDA for about $122,000 in repairs made to the building. The reimbursement is included in his lease deal.

In June, the IDA said it would examine the reimbursement requests. Since then, Nichols said there has been little information about the status of his reimbursement. He’s still not sure what’s going on.

“They can pick up the phone and call me at any time and I’m willing to meet with them,” Nichols said. “If there’s something in question that they didn’t like or want more answers on, I’m free to meet with them and discuss. They can call me anytime.

“So, it’s very frustrating for me,” Nichols added.

The Chemung IDA Board meets monthly, but the August meeting was cancelled. The last meeting was in July, but it’s not known if the reimbursement was discussed. IDA officials told WSKG they won’t make the July minutes public until they’re approved by the IDA board.

According to the New York Committee on Open Government, minutes must be made available within two weeks of a meeting regardless of whether they’ve been approved. IDA head Joe Roman has not responded to requests asking to explain his reason for withholding the minutes.

Meanwhile, Nichols waits.

“I would just like to get this resolved,” he said. “We’ve worked hard over here, our entire staff has worked hard, my family has worked hard to fix this arena, to clean it up, to bring events in here. We just want to be treated fairly.”

Nichols is in the second year of a three-year lease on the arena. He’s renting the facility for $125-per-month. He also pays property taxes and maintenance around the building. In addition, Nichols has taken over paying utilities, though those were initially paid for by the IDA.