A motion filed in Lycoming County Court is asking a judge to stop the company that installed the ice rink at Bowman Field and related equipment from taking back its materials.
The rink is rented to a local nonprofit group for community skating events and is home to the Williamsport Outlaws professional hockey team.
Concerned that Rink Specialists, of Naples, Maine, would shut down ice making equipment and the rink structure because of late payments, Williamsport Ice Arena - the nonprofit group that contracted with the company - filed a legal request for a preliminary injunction that keeps equipment from being repossessed.
Attorneys for the group claim that Rink Specialists provided equipment that wasn't in working order and finished construction of the rink 10 days late. Two payments totaling $118,000 were made to the company, but the nonprofit group is holding back $47,520 because of those issues, court documents stated.
The company is expecting about another $150,000 in payments for its services, according to Benn Breton, president of Rink Specialists.
He said he now wants his rink and ice equipment back because of nonpayment so he can use it elsewhere.
Breton said his company intends to take down the rink and move it to the Hersheypark Stadium for the American Hockey League 2013 Outdoor Classic by Jan. 20, if an agreement is not reached and the court allows him to do so.
"It is a mess and we're not used to it, to be honest with you," said Breton, who added his company never has been involved in a legal squabble. "We feel as a company we've been dragged along enough that we can't wait any longer.
"This has never happened to us before," he said.
Breton said he's frustrated because his employees aren't even allowed access to the very equipment he rents to the nonprofit group that operates the rink at Bowman Field.
He said his company has extended itself in allowing extra time and being lenient with payment due dates.
"We've extended it to the point where we can. Now we need our equipment back," said Breton. "It's going to cost my company $25,000 just to remove the rink, that I know I'm not going to see."
Breton explained that the rink opened several days late because the nonprofit group did not sign a contract on time.
Ken Weber, a senior technician with Rink Specialists who oversaw the construction of the facility, agreed with Breton.
"I literally sat in Williamsport for a week and watched my guys do nothing and paid them because they dragged their feet about the contract," Weber said.
Breton said he provided equipment and facilities in working condition.
"The equipment works because it's working," he said.
He added that his company was hesitant from the beginning in agreeing to the project.
"We kind of had our doubts they would be able to produce the amount of results we expected," Breton said. "We didn't want to be the bad guy. We have to be forceful when we're trying to get what is ours."
But Corey Mowery, one city attorney representing the nonprofit skating group, said the organization must be granted a hearing before the rink is dismantled.
"Rink Specialists said, 'you didn't make this installment payment; we're coming and shutting you down.' You can't take something without due process," Mowery said.
The lawyer said the nonprofit group has suffered from a loss of bookings and sponsorships because of the delay in rink construction, which was completed on Oct. 24 - 10 days later than expected. Additionally, a $15,000 bill from using Bowman Field lighting during evening construction was incurred by the nonprofit group, for which it says it should not be held responsible.
Mowery said he is hopeful both sides can come to an agreement before a Dec. 21 court hearing before Lycoming County Judge Richard A. Gray.
"The rink is still there. We know nothing will happen to the rink between now and then," he said.
Don Kirnan, executive director of the local nonprofit group and commissioner of the Federal Hockey League - the same league in which the Outlaws play - said his organization has a valid claim.
"The machinery from day one has not been what it's supposed to be," he said. "It's been a labor and a loss, really, for the nonprofit. It's not been an easy transition for us."
Kirnan said the outdoor rink was the most viable option for community skating and a professional hockey team until a dedicated indoor facility is constructed in the area.
"We're doing it basically to help the city have ice," he said. "We never went into it with the idea of making money. That's why we decided it had to be a nonprofit."
Chris Firriolo, team president and head coach of the Outlaws, said people may assume that the team is affiliated with the nonprofit group, but he added the franchise is not involved with the legal dispute between Rink Specialists and the local organization.
He said the Outlaws' ownership has met every obligation to the city, and is merely a tenant at Bowman Field such as the Williamsport Crosscutters minor league baseball team.
Firriolo said that in his opinion, the dispute will not affect the scheduled FHL All-Star game on Jan. 2 at Bowman Field.
"We plan to be here for the long haul," he said. "I don't feel in jeopardy at all that (the rink) is going to be taken away from us."