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Ceremony catches up to debut of park in Lockport Access for handicapped added to town facility

The town's first full-service park is still a work in progress, but town leaders proudly cut the ribbon Wednesday.

Day Road Park, developed on 50 acres of land the town obtained from Niagara County, has been in limited operation since last fall, when playground equipment was installed.

"It got open so late in the year, and we knew we were going to do something else, so we waited until now [to hold the opening ceremony]," said Jeanine Shaw, chairwoman of the Recreation Commission.

A second set of equipment accessible to handicapped children, including a wheelchair slide and swings, also was opened Wednesday.

"It's meant for them to be independent, which is why they picked Independence Day to open it," said Councilwoman Cheryl A. Antkowiak.

A base of rubber particles to protect children who fall was installed around the new equipment.

The second playground, funded by a $116,000 grant from the Grigg-Lewis Foundation of Lockport, is only the latest of what the town hopes will be a long list of improvements.

Two soccer fields are being roughed out, with planting expected before the end of the year, said Supervisor Marc R. Smith. Two existing baseball diamonds also will be improved.

"We need to bring in some sand and cut out the grass," Smith said.

By next season, the diamonds should be in better shape. They're currently being used primarily for practice sessions by local teams.

"I think the next thing you're going to see is some landscaping," Smith added. "We have $16,000 to $20,000 left from our grant."

He was referring to a $150,000 grant the town received from the state Department of Environmental Conservation.

Antkowiak said that the park already has a walking path more than a mile long but that there are grander plans afoot.

There already have been some rough designs drawn up for a park pavilion that would include restrooms. Antkowiak said she envisions a building large enough to offer arts and crafts classes for children.

"We're looking into future grants," the councilwoman said.

Other ideas include a couple of outdoor basketball courts and two tennis courts.

Ice skating on ponds near the walking path, part of the wetlands on the property, is a wintertime possibility, Antkowiak added.

"All this is on the master plan," Shaw said. But she cautioned that it's all dependent on the availability of funding.

Antkowiak, who served on the Recreation Commission for 15 years and served as chairwoman for a decade, is excited.

"This is the best thing I ever worked on," she said.

Smith said the nature trail on Slayton Settlement Road, the town's other recreational facility, also is in line for improvement.

A 6-by-32-foot bridge is to be installed near the waterfall in the park, and 1,000 feet of new trail is to be blazed, the supervisor said.

e-mail: tprohaska@buffnews.com

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