A skate park proposed for Amherst in memory of a teenager killed by a drunken driver has taken a big step toward becoming a reality.
The Town of Amherst will provide a quarter-acre of land at the Northtown Center at Amherst so a nonprofit foundation can build the skate park.
The Amherst Town Board unanimously agreed on Monday.
“It’s going to be located in a sports complex, which makes it ideal,” said Jonathan Fulcher, president of the Alix Rice Peace Park Foundation. “It’s the perfect location. We’re very excited.”
The skate park project is in memory of Alexandria “Alix” Rice, the 18-year-old who was killed by a drunken driver in July 2011 while riding her longboard late at night on Heim Road as she headed home from her job at a pizzeria.
Her death led to a highly public trial against James G. Corasanti, the Getzville doctor who was driving the car and left the scene of the crash.
Corasanti was found not guilty of more serious felony charges, including manslaughter, but was sent to jail for the driving while intoxicated conviction. After serving two-thirds of his one-year sentence, Corasanti was released from custody in April and resumed practicing medicine.
In the aftermath, the foundation was created, with the goal of building a 10,000-square-foot concrete skate park in Alix’s memory so kids will have a safe place to ride for free.
The foundation – which is responsible for paying the costs of construction, insurance and maintenance – has been raising money and seeking donations while discussing possible locations with the town.
Councilmember Guy R. Marlette proposed two spots on the grounds of the Northtown Center, located on Amherst Manor Drive. The potential quarter-acre sites are close to each other, both just south of the Amherst bike path and north of the University at Buffalo baseball diamonds.
A user agreement, final design and site plan still need approval. All are expected within the next couple of months.
Marlette, who introduced the resolution at the board’s meeting on Monday night, said the Northtown Center is a good place for the skate park, because it’s visible and the town will have some control over what happens at the site.
That location not only has easy access from the bike path, but already has parking, bathroom facilities and some lighting. That should save the foundation some money on the project, Marlette said.
“In theory, the cost for them could drop in half – maybe less,” Marlette said. “We’ll see.”
So far, the foundation has raised more than $81,000 of its $250,000 goal.
The foundation expects to be more aggressive in its fundraising over the next several months, and hopes to break ground by fall.
“We’re really going to bear down in the next six months,” Fulcher said of raising money for the project. “I really believe a lot of people have been waiting to hear where it’s going to be located – which is huge.”