Town looks at buying Bonnie Castle arena

The Bonnie Castle Recreation Center site on Route 12, pictured above in October of 2016, has been considered a tentative location for a possible new multipurpose arena from the Alexandria Town Council.

ALEXANDRIA BAY — The developer who 2½ years ago bought the former Bonnie Castle Recreation Center on Route 12 has found a potential buyer for the old ice arena and some adjacent acreage: the town of Alexandria.

The Town Council has expressed interest in negotiating a possible acquisition with David C. Muraco that would include the 40,000-square-foot arena, other buildings on the property and up to 20 or 30 acres. A couple of councilmen will meet Mr. Muraco this afternoon to flesh out the details.

Supervisor Brent H. Sweet said the board has considered transforming the old arena into a new multipurpose facility with an ice rink and indoor ballfields that would replace the municipal arena, 39 Bolton Ave. A few town officials have toured the property, and Mr. Sweet said he heard the arena’s structure was “in good shape.”

“It’s a nice piece of land with a bunch of buildings,” Mr. Sweet said. “If we can do a multi-use facility up there, it would be a great location.”

The town has been exploring multiple options for providing residents an updated ice arena that boil down to either renovating its 53-year-old rink or building a new one that would also feature amenities for other activities like an indoor track, a basketball court and ball fields.

Another possible home for a new arena would be on 170 acres at the intersection of Route 12 and Swan Hollow Road owned by Richard K. Champney.

A couple of local businessmen introduced the option of acquiring land from Mr. Muraco last week as officials were discussing their existing options, Mr. Sweet said. The town supervisor said he liked the site’s proximity to Interstate 81 and access to water and sewer services and three-phase power.

Mr. Muraco, president of Empire Management of CNY, DeWitt, said he would like to offer the buildings and acreage the town would need for $300,000 to help cover the overhead expenses from his own purchase in 2016. In addition to utilities, he said the land has access roads and parking for up to 1,000 cars.

“I think we can start with the ice and turn it into something really spectacular,” Mr. Muraco said.

The developer purchased the 660-acre recreation center site in the fall of 2016 from Marc. J. Fernandez, who owned it with his father-in-law, Donald E. Cole.

Several months later, 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 said he 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” company that could build a year-round tourist attraction at the site.

“My stuff takes time,” he said. “Let’s put the ice skating rink there and something will come of it.”

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