Updated: Derry ICDA Votes for Hotel

By Dave Buffington

This text has been updated to include a quote in the sixth paragraph:

    The Derry Township Industrial and Commercial Development Authority (ICDA) has, by a 4-1 vote, decided to move forward with the Springwood Hospitality “letter of intent” to build a hotel at the old municipal complex on Hockersville Road.
    In doing so, the ICDA rejected a proposal from the Hershey Volunteer Fire Company to move the fire station from its current location at 21 W. Caracas Ave. to the Hockersville Road site.
    About 20 members of the volunteer fire company attended the May 6 meeting, and Hershey Fire Vice President Dave Stough spoke on the group’s need for a new building, citing, for example, the company’s need for additional parking and a stronger structure to hold heavier equipment.
    Still, the Springwood victory was expected because of the larger amount of money Springwood could bring to the township. To start, Springwood offered $1.2 million for the property while Hershey Fire offered $500,000.
    A hotel could also bring tax revenue to the township and the Derry Township School District, and school board member Ellen Sheffey addressed the board, expressing the district’s desire to have that additional tax revenue. Moving the fire company on Hockersville would likely remove that property from the tax rolls, but it might also lead to the return of existing downtown property to taxable status.
    The fire company would have financed the purchase through the sale of its existing property to the Hershey Trust, and at the meeting, Stough said, "In addition to that, the Trust offered to spearhead a fundraising campaign with some rather large numbers. They believe five million dollars is not unobtainable at all."
    That announcement raised eyebrows in the audience and is likely to fuel speculation about the Trust's plans for a hotel in the downtown area. The issue of the Trust was raised again by ICDA member Todd Pagliarulo, who announced that he received legal clearance to vote on the competing proposals despite his involvement with the fire company and his consulting work for the Trust.
    Finally, after nearly two hours of discussion, ICDA members Chris Abruzzo, Domenick Argento, James Ingalzo and Mike Pries voted for the Springwood proposal. Todd Pagliarulo voted for the Hershey Fire proposal.
    All of the Springwood votes expressed reluctance to oppose the fire company, and Pries, who is also chairman of the Derry Township Board of Supervisors, volunteered to serve on a committee to help the fire company address its needs.
    After the meeting, Hershey Fire Vice President Dave Stough told The Sun, “They seem to think there are lots of other locations where we could go. We’re anxious to see them.”

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