Opening of Ice RInk

Jim Byrnes, Andy Sciarabba, and Larry Baum at the opening of the Cass Park Hockey Rink in 1995.

Andrew J. Sciarabba grew up in Rochester, where he attended Catholic schools from first grade through college. By the time he was in high school he knew he wanted to become a Certified Public Accountant. “ I wasn’t skilled in mathematics, but I could add and subtract,” Andy modestly assessed. Working at Don and Bob’s Hot Dog Staff after school, summers and holidays, Andy set his sights on joining a CPA firm after college. He joined Touche Ross in 1965.

Andy and Rosemary Ann Saccomano were high school sweethearts. Married in 1965, Andy observed that Rosemary was his partner and supporter for all of his undertakings and projects throughout their happy and productive 56 years together. While Andy worked at “the firm,” Rosemary was caretaker of their three children: Julie, who married Tony Eisenhut;  Andy, married to Bonnie Burr; and Jay, married to Karen Kannus (of Trader K fame). These days, two of the grown children, plus grandchildren Lindsay and Chris Mower,  Emily  and Tommy D'Alessandro,  Sarah  and Mike Missen,  Ryan Sciarabba, and Dane Sciarabba, and six great-grandchildren, Owen Mower, Julia Mower, Bennett and August D'Alessandro, and Logan and PaytonMissen,all live in Lansing, NY. Andy, Jr., and his family live nearby in Trumansburg.

Andy said they were 23 for their Christmas gathering.

After nine years as a CPA at Touche Ross, Andy offered to set up a satellite office in Ithaca. And so, he did, in 1974.

Good friends with fellow firm CPA Ken Walker, in 1976 Andy and Ken decided to open their own accounting firm. The two friends set up shop at 310 N Aurora Street in Ithaca, NY, next door to the Thaler Law Firm. “We loved Ithaca—the culture, the arts, the business community. It was so easy to meet people, like Stu Lewis, a champion for the downtown businesses.”

Before long, Andy and Ken began looking into investments that would enable them to save for their eventual retirement. With background in construction and real estate they were open to new opportunities.

Along the way, youngest child Jay became an early hockey enthusiast at age 8. Andy, who had never been an ice skater, much less a hockey player, travelled with Jay’s hockey team, becoming the manager of the team, and then board member of the IthacaYouth Hockey Association.

 

Ice time in Ithaca for kids and adults was very limited. Jay’s team had a slot for hockey practice at 5:15 A.M. at Cornell. So, in 1985 Andy commissioned Holt Architecture to do a feasibility study and a design for a second hockey rink, which Andy proposed be built at Cass Park. During the first 3 years of interminable discussions before the Ithaca Common Council, Andy bought pre-owned hockey boards for $20,000, which Emerson Electric graciously stored for longer than they expected when they agreed. And local supporters pledged $300,000 toward the construction of Andy’s Cass Park Rink.

After three years Andy proposed to the Town of Lansing that they build the hockey rink, plus a town hall, and a Senior Center. But the Town was not ready for that proposal. 

When Andy approached the Village of Lansing, he brought along a Market Study by a Michigan consulting firm specializing in Rink Management. The author of the study, lauding the potential success of Andy’s proposed hockey rink, addressed the Village of Lansing Board.

Shortly after the Village of Lansing voted down Andy’s Hockey Rink Proposal, Bob Dean offered to sell Andy 14 acres on East Shore Drive in Lansing, after a fire burned down Bob Dean’s building at that site.

 

Once Andy bought the land, he was pleased that 90% of the generous offers pledged back in 1986 came through, despite the many years and proceedings which had intervened. With that backing, Andy went to the banks to find a partner and Tompkins Trust Company came through. With the support of Jim Byrnes, president of the Trust Company in those days, tax-free bonds were issued, and construction began March 1, 1996. (9 years after Andy proposed his hockey rink to the City.)

Six months later, The Rink opened. And The Rink Manager, employees, hockey enthusiasts and their families all agree things have gone really well since the doors opened.

 

In the meantime, Andy proposed the construction of an adjoining indoor soccer field, after he assessed the likely use and cost of such an addition. Since Andy’s indoor soccer field opened in October 2000, Cornell, Ithaca College, Wells College, and many other organizations have rented and enjoyed their use of the covered field for indoor soccer, lacrosse, football.

Both the ice rink and field are owned by the Community Recreational Center — Sciarabba has said that he “just did the fundraising and development of these projects.”

While Andy Sciarabba’s name became synonymous with Hockey, Andy was busy in his expanding accounting firm and his interest in real estate. When the much-loved YMCA building on Aurora and Tioga Streets was burned to the ground, some of Andy’s CPA clients and friends went in on the property and erected the building on that site. Andy and his wife Rosemary managed that building ever since it was built.

Over time the Sciarabba family became firmly entrenched in Lansing. Andy became the treasurer for the Community Recreational Center, which contains space set aside at no cost for the Lansing Food Pantry, overseen by Toni Adams. Andy, and his mostly Lansing partners, strategized how to promote other businesses and services for Lansing residents.

Over the years Andy spearheaded the construction of Lansing’s Village Place near the then Pyramid Mall site. Subsequently, they  acquired and developed the former Garage Defrance building on N. Triphammer Rd., the 179 Graham Rd office building, the Federal Express building on Warren Rd., and the Jamex property. all in the Village of Lansing. 

In the Town of Lansing, Andy and his partners acquired and developed the former hardware store building on the corner of N. Triphammer Rd and Rt. 34b, 14 acres of land on Peruville Rd., as well as the former Cutting Cars building on N.Triphammer Rd. They sold a portion of the land to the Cayuga Lake National Bank, which opened in 2021. That year Andy built an office building on N. Triphammer Rd.,which is home to a medical office, a land developer, a therapy group, and a software company. In 2011, Andy and partners constructed the Lansing Market property, bringing the only full-service grocery store to Lansing.

Central to all this development, was Andy Sciarabba’s personal relationships with his partners, who were often a combination of his CPA clients, family, and friends. Local agencies which turned to Andy, found him receptive and supportive, even when he had no connection to their work. And everyone received a return on their investment, based upon Andy’s vision and hard work creating, constructing, managing the property or enterprise.

Back in 2004 much respected and much-loved Mike Stamm, President of Tompkins County Area Development, contacted Andy, the Treasurer for that Board of Directors:  The owner of the former NCR building wanted to sell that huge multi-purpose building. A vast undertaking, Andy and partners acquired the property that year, and renamed it the South Hill Business Campus, moving forward on the onerous task of remediation, rehabilitation, and leasing in this sprawling property with remarkable success.

Stay tuned for more on the South Hill Business Campus, and one key person who shared Andy’s vision and hard work to make this conversion happen. 

(1) comment

john skurka

I find it somewhat frustrating and a bit disturbing that the CRC rink has such disdain for the Ithaca Youth Hockey Association, seeing he was a part of the board of IYHA. Ithaca and Tompkins County could be a powerhouse in youth hockey if there wasn't such a dividing wall between grown ups at the CRC and IYHA.

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