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Ice Alaska finds new home near current location in Fairbanks

Posted: June 5, 2011 - 6:58pm

FAIRBANKS — Ice Alaska will be packing up and moving down the block. It has found a new property that it is in the process of purchasing, according to organization officials.

The Ice Alaska nonprofit organization must be off the Alaska Railroad Corp. property by the end of the month, with no exceptions.

Although the organization asked for an extension to the permit that allows it to lease the railroad land, the June 30 eviction deadline still exists.

In a letter from Jim Kubitz, the railroad’s vice president of real estate and facilities, he said there was no reason for the permit to be extended.

Kubitz called the discussed extension option as a “stop-gap measure” that would have been used if it looked like the 2012 World Ice Art Championships was going to be cancelled and only if the organization had an “ironclad plan for relocating to another property after the 2012 event.”

“Neither of those circumstances exists,” he wrote May 31.

Kubitz wrote that the organization expressed interest in a new property, but the deal did not seem solid enough.

“Its recent offer for ARRC’s property demonstrated that it faces significant hurdles to financing such a purchase,” he said. “Moreover, if I.C.E. Alaska’s attempted purchase of other land proceeds, it could certainly move its operation the short distance to the new location in time for the 2012 event.”

The ice park’s new proposed property is a short distance — at just about a mile to the west.

The land used to belong to George R. Horner, a former president of H&H Contractors, and is now owned by Geohorn LLC, his family’s business. The three lots totaling 25 acres straddle Marian Drive at the west end of Phillips Field Road.

George L. Horner, son of the late elder George, said his family approached Ice Alaska with the idea that it purchase the land the family no longer uses. He felt it would suit the organization needs well.

“It was a blessing come true,” said Dick Brickley, chairman of Ice Alaska. “What a wonderful thing for this community that Ice Alaska (will own) its own property.”

Brickley expects the deal to be closed soon because everything has been agreed upon, but said the price was confidential.

Brickley said the new land is nearly ideal, with trees on a portion of it, accessibility and a gravel pit area that could be used as a pond for ice.

“Everybody can see it off the Johansen (Expressway) coming back and forth,” he said.

The new park will be known as “The George Horner Ice Park.”

The Fairbanks North Star Borough Assembly approved a conditional state grant for Ice Alaska to purchase the railroad land, but the railroad didn’t bite.

Brickley believes the money will still count toward the new property, but did not need the funds for the purchase.

The railroad corporation told the borough it would allow for the organization to continue using the O’Grady Pond for ice, with a conditional agreement, for up to two years.

While the organization did not want to have to leave its current location, which they’ve leased for the past 15 years, Brickley said volunteers are in the process of clearing the area out. Everything must be gone, including the electrical system.

“We’re rolling up our sleeves” and moving on, he said.

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