ALEXANDRIA BAY Owners of the Bonnie Castle Recreation Center are keeping mum, but its tenant, Thousand Islands Privateers, claims it had no choice other than to sign a 69-day lease to keep the facility open for the team and the publics benefit.
Privateers owner Nicole Kirnan said the team was given a three-day notice that the Recreation Center, where it had been renting office space and ice time, would be closed on Jan. 22, cutting its season short, and had to make a quick decision.
Marc J. Fernandez, co-owner of the property, did not return several calls seeking comment Monday and Tuesday. The Times also was unable to reach Mr. Fernandezs business partner and father-in-law, Donald E. Cole.
Under the lease agreement, the Privateers will run the entire facility including the ice rink, restaurant and bar until March 31. Ms. Kirnan declined to disclose how much the Privateers had to pay Bonnie Castles owners to rent the whole facility for the remainder of the season.
It wasnt necessarily for the monetary gain, Ms. Kirnan said, adding that Alexandria Central School girls hockey, three other youth hockey programs and Fort Drum Mountaineers hockey team were among those who had been using the facility.
Also, she said, the Privateers are committed to remaining in the community and are open to the idea of extending the lease next season.
The property has been proposed as the site for the states final racino project, including a gambling parlor and harness racing track. Bonnie Castles supposed financial troubles are unlikely to affect the racino project because the estimated $140 million work is backed by a casino development company.
The real hurdle Mr. Fernandez and Mr. Cole have to clear is obtaining the eighth, and last remaining, harness-racing license available in New York state.
Besides Bonnie Castle Downs Inc., Rochester developer Thomas Wilmot Sr., who hopes to build a racino in the Syracuse area, and Louis Cappelli, owner of the Concord Resort Hotel in Kiamesha Lake in the Catskills, are hoping to obtain the license from the states Racing and Wagering Board.
Ms. Kirnan said Bonnie Castles restaurant no longer will serve lunch but will be open Friday and Saturday nights as well as game nights.