Frustration Continues Even As First Arena Code Violations Settle

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VESTAL, NY (WSKG) – Code violations at Elmira’s First Arena aren’t a problem anymore, according to the city. This comes after the arena was cited last week by city fire code inspectors.

Gabe Altieri/WSKG

Fans take in an Elmira Enforcers game this past season at First Arena. Gabe Altieri/WSKG

“As of today, they have complied with a majority of the issues,” said Elmira City Manager Michael Collins. “They do have inspectors coming in, taking a look at different things so First Arena continues to operate.” Collins said everything was in compliance in time for Elmira College commencement last weekend.

Even as the issue settles, two of the main people involved are pretty frustrated.

Robbie Nichols, who leases First Arena from the Chemung County Industrial Development Agency, is annoyed with how the whole code violation deal went down. He also owns the Elmira Enforcers hockey team, which plays in the arena.

“I’m a businessman and I don’t know how he does business, but that’s not how we do business,” said Nichols, referencing County Executive Chris Moss. Moss, according to Nichols, spoke with reporters about the violations without talking to him first.

There were several violations, including how the carbon monoxide detectors were mounted, issues with the fire alarm system, and a messed up fence.

The building was first cited in November, but Moss said he didn’t hear about it until May, when the Industrial Development Agency, or IDA, notified him. “If the tenant’s not going to address them, the IDA has to address them, said Moss. “It’s a definite safety concern.”

Moss also wondered why it took six months to deal with the violations. Nichols said he’s been working on the issues in that time.

“I’m over it. I’m moving forward,” Nichols said. “I’m going to fix everything. I want it to be the safest building.”

Nichols said he’s poured a lot of money into fixing up the arena, a building the Chemung IDA tried for years to unload. Nichols began leasing First Arena last year. The Elmira Star-Gazette reports he pays $125-a-month on a three-year deal.

“I can assure you when that agreement has expired we won’t be renting the arena at a $125-a-month,” Moss said, admitting First Arena’s future is ultimately up to the IDA.