A lot of potential

The town of Alexandria Bay has proposed purchasing the former Bonnie Castle Recreation Center on Route 12 for a new ice arena and multi-sport complex. Daytona Niles/Watertown Daily Times

ALEXANDRIA BAY — The Town Council has obtained cost estimates for the prospect of transforming the former Bonnie Castle Recreation Center into its new ice arena and sports complex.

The board adopted a resolution on July 31 that would allow it to bond for up $5.5 million for renovations and enhancements to the 40,000-square-foot arena, ancillary structures and fields. With its $300,000 purchase offer to property owner David C. Muraco for the arena, all other buildings and 300 acres on Route 12, the board could expect to spend about $5.8 million on the project.

Supervisor Brent H. Sweet said renovation costs, which BCA Architects & Engineers estimated to be just under $5.5 million, would encompass roof repairs, fixing the dashboards and glass around the ice rink, new lighting and other updates. More than $250,000 would be used to transform the surrounding 300 acres into new sports fields for soccer, baseball, lacrosse and other sports.

“We feel it would be perfect for sports fields, which we are badly in need of,” Mr. Sweet said about the land.

Taxpayers will have the opportunity to vote in the next general election on whether the town purchases the property, and the bond resolution is contingent on the outcome of the vote.

The board had considered two other main options for bringing residents an enhanced arena and multi-use space: investing $5.76 million to update the existing municipal arena, 39 Bolton Ave., or spending $12 to $15 million to acquire and build a facility on 170 acres at the intersection of Route 12 and Swan Hollow Road owned by Richard K. Champney.

Mr. Sweet said he felt the Bonnie Castle center property yielded more options for the town. The arena, which has an approved capacity for 3,200 people, could be used for concerts, trade shows and other events, and some residents have mentioned using a building in back for farmers markets, Mr. Sweet said. The property also has aluminum bleachers and municipal water and sewer connections.

While the board adopted a bond resolution, Mr. Sweet said it will try to secure grant funding to help finance renovations.

“The town needs to explain and put to paper the pros and cons .... of the three different possibilities,” Mr. Sweet said.

Mr. Muraco, president of Empire Management of CNY, DeWitt, purchased the Bonnie Castle Recreation Center property for $900,000 in the fall of 2016 from Marc. J. Fernandez, who owned it with his father-in-law, Donald E. Cole.

Several months after his acquisition, Mr. Muraco announced his vision for a regional sports, academic and tourist hub on the property. He hoped to facilitate land purchase deals with retailers, hoteliers and attraction operators and either sell or donate acreage to municipalities, school districts and universities.

The developer previously struck a deal with Seville Developments to build a new Dollar General on land across from Price Chopper. He has also been in negotiations with other businesses to buy property for development, including talks with Vision Hotels in an effort to bring a Marriott-brand hotel to the area.

Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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