Chaminade defeated Iona 10-2 in boys lacrosse action at Iona Prep in New Rochelle March 29, 2018. Frank Becerra Jr./Lohud
The hefty club scrapbook contains a newspaper clipping of the groundbreaking.
That was in June of 1966.
But now, with their forced exodus from their longtime home little more than two years away, members of the Ardsley Curling Club hope to find another local site to break ground for another facility.
The club, which currently includes about 235 members, financed construction of its roughly 16,000- square-foot building on the grounds of the Ardsley Country Club. But the country club, as per the original agreement, later took over ownership and it now wants to use it for another purpose.
What purpose is unclear.
Ardsley Country Club president Greg Smith said eight options are being considered, among them a gym, indoor golf facility and kids camp.
A committee will ultimately decide what proposals to present for a membership vote, said Smith, who noted the country club includes about 350 families.
While Mike Shalhoub, the curling club’s president, said he believes the planned change in use is designed as a “marketing tool” to attract new members, Smith denied that. But he said, “If it does attract more, that would be great.”
The curlers, who pay the country club rent, utility charges and taxes, have been “incredibly good” tenants, Smith said.
But when the curling club was built, more curlers, including Smith’s own now-late parents, also belonged to the country club. Now that number is only about 15, Smith estimated, citing that as reason for change.
“It’s not about having them out,” he said. “They’ve been great partners. But there is not a lot of cross-over. … In Olympic years, they’ve had incredible growth but it hasn’t translated to us. … This is a big space and very few of our members are using it.”
But finding another site the curlers can afford has proved problematic.
The country club formally notified the curlers last summer they’d have to leave in June 2020 when their most recent lease expires.
A committee of curlers has explored purchasing land but, to date, that has proved cost-prohibitive. An increased focus has been placed on finding land to lease, then building on that, as was the club did nearly 52 years ago.
Joe Sablow, a member of the Ardsley Curling Club, at the club's facility at the Ardsley Country Club. The club, which as been at the same location since the 1960's has been informed by the country club that their lease, which ends in 2020, will not be renewed. The club is presently looking for a new home. (Photo: Seth Harrison/The Journal News)
With central or lower Westchester preferred locations, both public and private properties are being explored, according to curling Board of Directors member Joe Sablow.
Sablow, who noted the next closest curling clubs are in Bridgeport, CT., Plainfield, NJ, Albany and Schnectady, said, “The best scenario is we’d partner with a municipality.”
He suggested the club could erect a building used for the September-April curling season and then by a community for anything from a summer camp to a trade shows to pickle ball play.
The club would like its next building to be 20,000-22,000 square feet, so the land would have to accommodate that.
The current building includes a kitchen and a small bar/food-area lounge that overlooks a roughly 70-by-150-foot ice area that includes three playing sheets. Sablow and Shalhoub said, ideally, the new facility would include four or more sheets.
This would allow for expanded expanded tournament play, and growth of the club’s kids program.
Shalhoub also mentioned the possibility of a new site serving as an Olympic curling training center, which, while still having a low impact in terms of road traffic, could push money into area motels and restaurants, as would hosting a greater number of tournaments, or bonspiels, as curlers call them.
That might seem ambitious but the club, whose members include kids to 90-year-olds, has produced national- and international-level competitors.
“We’d love to grow the sport. That’s our objective,” Sablow said, adding, “It’s not big traffic. It’s not like a rowdy sport.”
“We’re investigating other golf courses. We’re trying to leave no stone unturned. … “We’ve been talking to realtors and are in the process of fundraising,” he said.
Given the uncertainty of what size structure could be constructed and where, the club is reluctant to talk about cost estimates.
But Shalhoub indicated it’s seeking money from members and may reach out to companies and foundations for possible support. Sablow noted the club will also solicit public donations on its ardsleycurling.com website.
“The club will go on 100 percent,” Shalhoub said. “It’s a question of whether we have our own ice,” he said, said.
The Ardsley club actually formed in 1932 but, before building at the country club, used ice at the now-defunct St. Andrew’s Curling Club in Hastings.
After it lost its own country club, it took Bridgeport’s Nutmeg Curling Club years to find a site to build another facility, Sablow said, noting those curlers were “nomads in the desert,” playing at Ardsley for multiple years.
Ardsley’s curlers are trying to avoid approaching local skating rinks, mostly because they prefer a surface dedicated to curling, since curling rinks utilize pebbled ice and skating rinks are smooth, slick surfaces.
“It’s night and day,” Sablow said of the difference.
“We need to have some luck – a place that would want us or thinks enough of the sport of curling to let us have a bargain,” Shalhoub said of gaining a site to build.
Sharon and Matt Gallegos of Dobbs Ferry sweep the ice in front of the stone at the Ardsley Curling Club March 5, 2018. The curling club, which has been located at the Ardsley Country Club since the 1960's, has been informed by the country club that their lease will not be renewed when it expires in 2020. The club has started the search for a new home. (Photo: Seth Harrison/The Journal News)
The club and surrounding country club are in the Town of Greenburgh.
Greenburgh Supervisor Paul Feiner, who toured the curling club last year, lamented its pending departure, remarking its members are “extremely dedicated and passionate,” and the club “adds to the character of the community.”
But Feiner said the town doesn’t own any open space suitable for construction of a curling building and can’t intervene to try to keep the club where it is.
“The town can’t tell the country club what to do,” Feiner said, adding though, “I’d be happy to follow up with other public bodies.”
Of finding another spot and building again, Sablow said, “It’s crazy but it’s doable. One way or another, I’ll stick with curling. I don’t want to see it leave the area. The history is just so rich here. It would be a shame.”