The Common Council Wednesday authorized allocating up to $25,000 in revenue from the bed tax to pay for a study of the feasibility of a combined ice rink and sports village.
Jeffrey J. Schratz, chairman of the Ice Rink Steering Committee, asked the Council for the authorization during a committee of the whole meeting before Wednesday's regular Council session. The Council later approved hiring the firm of EI Team of Amherst to conduct the study.
Schratz said David Douglas, a member of the EI Team, suggested having different sports in one indoor/outdoor area, such as a swimming pool, ball fields, a health-food store, nutrition shop and physical therapy space.
"Ideally, we'd like to see that in the city, to bring people into this area," said Schratz.
Schratz also said there will be "a myriad of public forums" so people can tell the committee and the EI Team just what they want to see in a facility. The group will travel to the Kenan Center and to the YMCA for some ideas as well.
He said the combination ice rink and sport village is the key to making the place viable. "I don't believe that an ice rink in and of itself may be sustainable," said Schratz. The team also will ask the Council whether it will allocate any money annually for the project, and if so, how much it would be.
"The idea of it, sort of, is destination," said Duncan M. Black, senior vice president of the EI Team.
The Council will be asked whether it would be a public or a private facility, placed on public or private land, and how much it would cost to operate the facility over time. Black said he would take eight to 12 weeks to complete the study.
Black also said he would start to schedule public forums after two weeks' work. "We've got to get to a point where we really understand the community and understand the needs."
In another matter, Fire Chief Thomas Passuite told the Council that he is wondering how to pay for and order medical items from Lockport Memorial Hospital after the hospital changed its billing policy in May.
Previously, the hospital had allowed the Fire Department to use whatever items it needed for medical emergencies, and then it would bill the patients for the items that were used during each call, Passuite said.
However, the Fire Department now has to purchase all of the items at cost, plus about 15 percent, he said. "It's hard for me to figure how much it's been since May."
He said he was unsure how the Fire Department would recoup the cost.
"We can increase our ambulance fee, but it wouldn't matter," because Medicaid and Medicare will reimburse only an amount that they deem fair, he said. He added that he hopes he can keep the necessary equipment on the shelves of the Fire Department to save lives.
In the meanwhile, he said that he is getting price quotes from other firms.