Grand Ballroom awarded $10K grant
Windber lands funds to study dance hall HVAC upgrade
WINDBER – Windber Recreation Park’s Grand Ballroom has been a summertime draw for nearly a century.
Borough leaders want to see it do the same year-round.
Windber Borough has been awarded a $10,000 grant from the Community Foundation for the Alleghenies to study the feasibility of adding a modern heating and air conditioning system through the building, Borough Manager Jim Furmanchik said. The hall, which features a stage, hardwood dance floor and kitchen, has been a recreation park landmark for generations, hosting receptions, oldies dances and other events yearly.
“The ballroom is one of Windber’s most prominent historic sites. We want to transform this into a facility that can be used 365 days a year,” he said.
A key part of the goal will involve drawing up ways to add ductwork systems through the historic building in ways that won’t detract from its charm, he added.
Community Foundation for the Alleghenies President Mike Kane said the historic
location’s unique look is part of its draw.
It evokes a bygone era – reminiscent of the fictional Kellerman’s Resort dance hall featured in the 1987 classic “Dirty Dancing,” he said.
“It’s a throwback – and it’s still in such good shape,” Kane said.
“And if we can help find a way to bring more people to it, it’s going to help the park, the borough and the community itself.”
The feasibility study grant was awarded from the nonprofit’s Community Initiatives Fund, which supports projects in the Greater Johnstown region.
Borough leaders also are also exploring the idea of adding other additions that might be viable inside an all-year venue, Furmanchik said.
Furmanchik said a full commercial kitchen might be feasible.
An outdoor patio or deck also may be worth pursuing, too, he said.
The Windber Area Economic Development Committee spearheaded the ballroom plan.
The group’s president, Heath Grillo, said the Windber Municipal Authority has done “an amazing job” filling up the recreation park and its ballroom over the summer.
She envisions a year-round venue having a “ripple effect.”
“When people come in for a reception or a special event, they stay at hotels, they visit the downtown
and they go to restaurants,” Grillo said. “It could mean a lot for Windber.”
United Way Grant Writer Travis Hutzell worked with the economic development committee to apply for the funding, Furmanchik said.
Furmanchik said borough officials will likely discuss advertising the study for bids in February.
David Hurst is a reporter for The Tribune-Democrat. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram @tddavidhurst.
“The ballroom is one of Windber’s most prominent historic sites.”
JIM FURMANCHIK, WINDBER BOROUGH MANAGER
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“Why not Windber” is the catch phrase of The Windber Area Economic Development Committee and Borough Council, as we are working to attract business and industry to this community while bolstering existing commerce. The table has been set for success and we are working daily to move forward.