ALEXANDRIA BAY — Town of Alexandria taxpayers will determine whether the town buys the former Bonnie Castle Recreation Center for its new ice arena in the next general election.
The Town Council approved a $300,000 purchase offer Monday for the 40,000-square-foot arena, all other buildings at the site and 300 acres on Route 12. The property, owned by David C. Muraco, would become a multipurpose complex with an updated ice rink.
The deal has not been sealed, however, because the board on Wednesday voted unanimously to hold a public referendum for the potential purchase in November during the general election, said Supervisor Brent H. Sweet.
“We feel the taxpayers have the right to make that decision, not five board members,” he said.
The town has been exploring multiple options for providing residents an updated ice arena that have boiled down to either renovating the 53-year-old rink on Bolton Avenue or building a new one that would also feature a variety of amenities like an indoor track, a basketball court and ball fields.
Another possible home for a new arena was 170 acres at the intersection of Route 12 and Swan Hollow Road owned by Richard K. Champney, but Mr. Sweet said the property lacked the necessary infrastructure available at the Bonnie Castle property.
After reviewing all three options, Councilman Michael D. Fayette said the board felt Mr. Muraco’s property offered the most benefit and opportunities for the cost. Possible uses for property and its buildings as a multipurpose facility could include outdoor ballfields, walking and cross-country trails, flea markets and concerts, Mr. Fayette said.
“There’s a lot of work that needs to be done. It won’t be a hockey facility or a skating facility for a couple of years,” he said.
In addition to $300,000 for the property, the board would have to pay to renovate and upgrade the arena, among other possible costs. Renovating the existing facility would have cost $5.6 million, Mr. Fayette said, while building a new one at Mr. Champney’s property could cost between $12 million and $15 million.
Mr. Muraco said the deal would practically be a donation that would help him to recoup some of his costs from purchasing the entire 660-acre recreation center property in 2016, which cost him about $900,000.
“I want to see something happen in the north country and the community,” he said.
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, universities. The overall effort could last five to 10 years before it comes to fruition.
Mr. Muraco previously struck a deal with Seville Developments to build a new Dollar General on land across from Price Chopper, and has been in negotiations with two unnamed retailers and a “big box” year-round tourism operation.
“I hope it all happens. I think a bunch of people are really hoping it happens,” he said.