A splash pad is supposed to provide a cool respite, but where exactly to put one in Lackawanna is generating plenty of heat these days.
First Ward Councilman Abdul Noman is adamant that the city should set aside land on Ridge Road to create an outdoor water park for children.
But other members of the City Council maintained at their meeting Monday that Noman’s proposal was all wet.
The city-owned property in the 1st Ward, they said, will be ripe for redevelopment once the former Friendship House, which has been vacant for years, is torn down. They want to see a plaza and perhaps a grocery. And they chastised Noman for not having a more fully developed plan and source of funding in place before pushing so hard for a splash pad.
“We don’t have any more information today than we had at the last meeting,” said 2nd Ward Councilwoman Annette Iafallo.
Noman had support from some other 1st Ward residents during the meeting, as he tried to draft a resolution designating the Ridge Road site for a splash pad and community center.
His effort ultimately was tabled, but not before City Council President Henry R. Pirowski agreed the city should designate land for a splash pad, so that state and federal grant money could be pursued to build it.
Assemblyman Michael P. Kearns, D-South Buffalo, first proposed the possibility of a splash pad with Lackawanna Mayor Geoffrey M. Szymanski in July, following the deaths of two teenagers, one from Lackawanna and one from Buffalo, who drowned in the Union Ship Canal.
With its proximity to Lake Erie, the city would be an excellent candidate to apply for the state’s Greenway Funding program, Kearns said in a letter to the mayor.
Kearns attended the meeting to encourage city officials to get on the same page with one another.
“I’m not here to tell you where you have to put things,” he said. “I didn’t mean to cause a whole big controversy here.”
Nonetheless, he added, to be eligible for grant funding an applying entity must show that it has “site control” of the property.
“Wherever you put it, you can’t apply for a grant without site control,” said Kearns.
An Ashland, Ohio, company provided an estimate of $70,174 for a 2,000-square-foot spray park to be delivered to the city.
But Marcia Cullens, city parks and recreation director, said the total cost probably would be closer to $300,000 with installation. Cullens also said a representative from the state’s Greenway Commission already informed city officials in October that the splash pad would not be eligible for Greenway funds.
Council members also heard from 1st Ward residents Mohamed Albanna and George Halsey, who advocated as part of a Steel City Splash Committee for the Council to designate the former Friendship House property for the water park.