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Skatepark grasps at greenway funds | Local News

The Niagara River Greenway Commission refused to give a letter of approval for the Railyard Skatepark project in Lockport on Tuesday.

The park is in the midst of being designed by Grindline and construction is expected to be completed before the end of the year. The project will replace the aging wooden structures at Outwater Park with a fully realized concrete skatepark. The cost of the facility is $500,000 with $250,000 being paid by Build to Play in a matching grant. The greenway funds were expected to make up $30,000 of those matching dollars.

In May, the Niagara County Legislature resolved to support the funding of the park to the tune of $30,000. The project had been reviewed by the Ad Hoc Committee for Parks, Recreation and Tourism Fund, and it was expected that the Niagara River Greenway Commission, another gatekeeper for county funds, would concur.

However, according to Greg Stevens, chair of the Niagara River Greenway Commission, the Legislature’s resolution was only good as a “letter of support” and the second step toward actually obtaining the funds is slightly nuanced.

“The greenway commission then reviews the project for consistency,” Stevens said of the process where he is most involved, noting that it could not deliver on the legislature’s promise.

In a mayor’s update, Tuesday, – a replacement for the work sessions originally held once a week in City Hall – Mayor Michelle Roman informed council members and the public present that the commission did not find the project to be consistent with the intent of greenway funds.

“They now feel the skatepark is too far away from the (Erie Canal) to be considered a greenway project,” Roman said.

Stevens sized up the concerns of his commission. He said it didn’t see enough tie-ins to the Empire State Trail or the Canal Trail and it also didn’t see any plans on green infrastructure for stormwater, which could also “rank” the project higher on the commission’s checklist, but the paperwork for such a project was not forthcoming.

“Great project,” he said. “But it’s a local recreational asset. Great for Lockport, but we didn’t see any regional impact.”

However, according to Stevens, there is still another option. The final step for funding is to approach the Niagara County Host Community Standing Committee, the group that holds the authorization to fund projects with or without a letter of recommendation from the greenway commission.

“They don’t require consistency to vote, ‘yes’,” Stevens said.

Legislator Rich Andres, chair of the ad-hoc committee, said that he and the legislature will be working with Roman to take care of anything that might stand in the way of the Niagara County Host Community Standing Committee from voting for the project.

“We’ll be working with them in the county to get the application in such a way for it to approved in November,” he said

In terms of the skatepark’s construction schedule, Roman said that no changes would be made. The project will still be done before the end of the year.

As to whether the design and construction of the park would have to change, taking into account any less funding, Roman was optimistic.

“I’m confident we’ll get the money,” she said.

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