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Lockport basketball court may stay

The city's youth and recreation director protested plans to remove the basketball court from Rogers Avenue Park during a Lockport Common Council session Wednesday, and it appeared she had won her case.

"I think we're going to keep the basketball court in," Council President Joseph C. Kibler said after director Melissa I. Junke urged the aldermen not to remove it.

However, Alderman John Lombardi III, R-1st Ward, said he still favors the removal and wants a formal Council vote on the matter.

Some people who live near the court have complained about noise from the players. At the same time, the city's police and fire unions offered to fund creation of a street hockey rink in the park along with a proposed memorial for recently deceased officers.

Joseph Kane, head of the city's forestry crew, said last week that he waters a grassy field at the park each winter to create an ice rink and that the same area could be paved for street hockey use.

But Junke rejected that idea Wednesday: "We have 100 things that need to be done rather than putting down another piece of blacktop when we have them all over the city."

Lombardi acknowledged that he doesn't know how much paving the grassy area would cost, although Norman D. Allen, director of engineering and public works, is looking into it.

If the price isn't right, Lombardi said the only place to put a street hockey rink would be where the basketball court is.

"I don't believe the unions are going to want to have anything to do with this," he said. That's because of the lack of a memorial.

But he acknowledged that Allen told him he would rather use his supply of asphalt to repair streets.

"I don't think you'll see anything [decided] until late fall," Lombardi said.

Junke cited the need for the basketball court: "We're already taking away so much from the kids. It's not fair. The need is so much greater than it ever was before, and you know once you get rid of something, you never get it back."

On another issue, her brother, Brian Junke, co-owner of Lock 34 Bar & Grille, said he will continue to insist that outdoor bands play more quietly and stop at 1:45 a.m. to prevent further noise complaints.

Residents of Urban Park Towers, across Main Street from the business, have complained to Lombardi about noise and Brian Junke's alleged failure to keep a promise to the Council to control the volume by moving the bands.