Surf’s up? Township wants to buy, reopen historic Ligonier Beach
Supervisors voted unanimously this week to make an offer to buy the private pool and restaurant off Route 30 from Sherry and Steven Kozar.
The Ligonier couple could not be reached for comment.
The pool had operated for more than 90 years before not opening last year after flooding damaged its pumps along with the restaurant furnace. The Kozars filed for Chapter 7 personal bankruptcy last spring.
“We wanted to be proactive on that piece of property and not just let it go by the wayside. That place is definitely a historic landmark. It’s prime real estate, and it carries a lot of memories for a lot of people,” supervisors Chairman Wade Thomas said.
The township is applying for a state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources grant to assist with the purchase, Thomas said. He said the township also is pursuing assistance through the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy.
“Everybody in the Ligonier Valley and all around the region knows where that property is. It’s important to this area,” he said.
Thomas said it is uncertain what development direction would be pursued if the township acquires the property. He indicated the property could be maintained for historical preservation or for recreational purposes or possibly multiple uses.
Rat Pack crooner Dean Martin once sang at the facility when he was young.
“This is not just a board of supervisors’ project. We’re just getting started and intend to get public input as we move forward on what direction to go with this,” Thomas said.
Thomas said supervisors voted to make a formal offer to the Kozars.
“We have an appraisal on the property, but we’re not going to release that at this point,” he said.
Scott Haines, executive director of the Ligonier Valley Chamber of Commerce, sees the possible acquisition as a positive step.
“I pass that area quite often, and right now that area is downtrodden. Anytime there is a possibility of getting someone to come in and possibly do something positive to improve it, it is definitely a good thing,” Haines said. “And it looks like they are going about it the right way, getting the community input.”
A federal bankruptcy judge in Pittsburgh closed out the Kozars’ personal bankruptcy case in August without all creditors being satisfied, according to online court dockets.
According to court filings, the Kozars listed $278,801 in assets versus $817,235 in liabilities. Sherry Kozar is listed in state corporation bureau documents as the lone officer of Ligonier Valley Beach Inc.
The corporation did not file bankruptcy. However, the largest unsecured debt listed by the couple in their personal bankruptcy petition was a $570,871 mortgage loan from a Massachusetts lender that the couple reported they co-signed on for Ligonier Valley Beach, according to court files.
Ligonier’s Gallo family in 1925 opened the business, originally known as Ligonier Valley Bathing Beach. Raymond and Reba Graham bought it in 1998.
Raymond Graham sold the property and business in 2008 to his daughter, Sherry, and her husband.
Paul Peirce is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Paul at 724-850-2860, [email protected] or via Twitter .