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City may have skateboard facility up and rolling by this summer

The city may have a skateboard facility by summer, according to Youth Board Chairman John D. Craig and Common Council President John Lombardi III.

They said Monday that a not-for-profit organization set up last year to raise money for the project has acquired 12 skateboard ramps and enough chain-link fence to encircle the 100-by-800-foot space marked out in Outwater Park for the facility.

Lombardi said the material was purchased last week from a skateboard facility in Wheatfield that is going out of business. Craig said the purchase almost wiped out the $5,000 raised last year by the Lockport Community Recreation Committee, of which he is chairman.

"We got a really nice deal on them," said Craig, who estimated the treated wood ramps would have cost about $40,000 new and new fencing would have cost as much as $13,000.

Kathleen Granchelli, executive director of the YWCA of Niagara and a member of the not-for-profit Recreation Committee, said the condition of the ramps was checked by Chris Naugle, owner of Phatman skateboard shops and another committee member.

"They're almost new," Granchelli said. At present the ramps are being stored at Lombardi's business, Overhead Door Co.

Lombardi said a plan to have volunteer labor pave the site last year fell through, but more plans are in the works. He said the city can supply asphalt milled off West Avenue last year to provide a base, although concrete may have to be purchased.

"If we can put the concrete down, we'll have some semblance of a skateboarding facility this year," Craig said.

He wrote a grant application about two weeks ago for a $20,000 grant from the Tony Hawk Foundation, which helps build skateboarding facilities. The city applied for a $400,000 state grant last year for that and other Outwater Park improvements but hasn't received a response from Albany.

The skateboard situation and other problems with youth programs in the city will be the topics of a meeting Thursday between Craig and the Council and a "Youth Summit" from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. Saturday in the Brew-haus, Washburn and Chestnut streets.

Craig said he expects about 40 people to attend; he sent out invitations to about 50 groups in the City and Town of Lockport and environs that offer youth programs.

Craig said there is no coordination in youth programs, resulting in a lot of duplication. "How many floor hockey leagues do we need in the city? There should be one provider," he said.

"We need a strategic plan," said Granchelli. "Little groups are working on different things."

The Recreation Commission was formed to work not only on the skateboard park but on improving other facilities at Outwater Park. One of those was the Community Pool, but a service club stepped forward last month to take care of that with a $150,000 fund-raising drive.

"If it weren't for Rotary stepping forward, we'd still be selling candy bars to keep the pool open," Granchelli said.

e-mail: tprohaska@buffnews.com

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