ALEXANDRIA — If the city’s plans hold up, the former Bonnie’s Castle recreation center on Route 12 could soon have new life.
At a special meeting on January 31, the city council unanimously approved a resolution to hire the engineering firm Bernier Carr & Associates to manage the initial stages of the renovation of the old rink.
Plans include an ice rink, space for concerts and large gatherings, and rental space for organizations to host large events. It would replace the aging municipal arena on Bolton Avenue.
But the building is far from ready for what the city has planned. The leisure center was once owned by the neighboring Bonnie Castle Resort. It hosted skating rinks, hockey tournaments and outdoor activities and had a dining hall. It has been vacant since 2012, when the Thousand Islands Privateers hockey team left the arena and became the Watertown Privateers, the precursor to the Watertown Wolves.
On Tuesday, Alexandria City Supervisor Brent M. Sweet said the city is working on renovating the roof of the structure, which is expected to cost up to $3.09 million. Sweet said city estimates put the cost at around $2.7 million, plus engineering costs between $200,000 and $300,000.
The council made its first move on the roof project on January 31.
“That means we have to do the design and the engineering, which is the first step,” Sweet said.
Bernier Carr & Associates will design and plan the new roof structure, as well as how to remove the old roof, before presenting the plan to Alexandria City Council for approval.
The city will then solicit bids from companies interested in completing the work and will likely accept the lowest bid. Mr. Sweet said the process will take time and the city will not know the status of some of the grants it has applied for to fund the project until the end of the year.
In 2019, city voters approved the city’s purchase of the 300-acre property, which includes the 40,000-square-foot arena and other buildings for $300,000. They also approved a proposal for the city to borrow $5.5 million to finance the purchase, as well as planned renovations and improvements. The city did not borrow that $5.5 million, and Mr. Sweet said he intended to use as many grants and US bailout funds as possible to complete the project.
“We will apply for grants, and if we don’t get grants, we will reapply for grants,” he said.
He said he would adamantly not raise city taxes to fund the project, pointing out that the city actually cut its property tax rate by 6 cents this year, while budgeting $200,000 for the Bonnie project. Castle Recreation Center.
He said the municipal arena has been in need of major renovations or replacement for many years, and city research has shown that renovating the old recreation center is the least expensive option. Building a new facility was estimated at $12-15 million a few years ago, and would likely cost more now.
Also on Jan. 31, City Council approved a resolution to spend $346,000 on a streetscape renovation project it is undertaking with the Village of Alexandria Bay and New York State. The village and town are each spending $346,000, including more than $600,000 from the state to renovate various local public infrastructure.
Sweet said plans include the replacement of public sidewalks throughout the city and village, two new boat ramps and dock systems at municipal docks, and a renovation of the Thompson Park playground in ‘Alexandria Bay, as well as other projects. On January 31, council approved a bid from TJ Fiacco Construction, Norwood, to complete the project.
“I believe they plan to start as soon as the weather permits,” Mr. Sweet said.