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Groundbreaking set for Lockport Fallen Heroes Memorial

LOCKPORT – Despite the lack of a design and of funds to construct the project, the committee working on Lockport’s planned Fallen Heroes Memorial decided Tuesday to schedule a groundbreaking ceremony.

New chairman Anthony Sammarco said he hopes the event, to be held at the memorial site in Outwater Park at 4:30 p.m. Oct. 29, will stir public interest in the project.

“We’ve talked a lot. We haven’t really done anything. It’s time to get moving,” Sammarco said.

Marietta Schrader, the Lockport Board of Education member serving on the memorial committee, said only about $200 has been donated since the city Treasurer’s Office opened an account for the project.

Sammarco acknowledged he can’t tell how much the project would cost. “A design will force a budget. It’s a chicken-egg thing,” he said.

At last week’s Common Council meeting, Mayor Michael W. Tucker suggested seeking designs from University at Buffalo architecture students. Tuesday, R. Charles Bell, city director of planning and development, said he will call his contacts at UB.

Philip Lange, a resident just added to the committee, suggested a design contest with a cash prize. “It’s in the interest of everybody in the city to get this going, have a high profile,” he said.

Schrader pointed out that the committee at the moment can’t afford a big cash prize.

Joey Prisaznuk, a Lockport resident who hopes to win an Eagle Scout designation through Boy Scout Troop 98 in Pendleton, attended the meeting, willing to help.

However, he told the committee, “I need a basic design before I can tell you what I can do for you.”

Norman D. Allen, city director of engineering and public works, said his staff could make a structural design if asked. It issued a request for proposals that was due Sept. 6 and resulted in one response, which Tucker rejected.

The memorial is to be centered on a nonfunctioning fountain in Outwater Park. It is meant to honor, in some way, all Lockport natives or residents who died in military, police or fire service.

The project grew out of a request by Lockport High School classmates of Patricia Parete to name a park after the Lockport native and Buffalo police officer who died Feb. 2 from injuries suffered when she was shot on duty. The Council rejected that suggestion.

There are numerous small monuments scattered around the city, and Sammarco said all of those people would be honored at the new memorial. “Right now, people don’t even know where half of those memorials are,” Sammarco said.

The committee did agree on a set of criteria for new honorees. They must have been born, died or at some point had legal residency in the City or Town of Lockport. They also must have died in the line of duty, a provision Sammarco said would include volunteer firefighters, or must have died in “a heroic act.” Sammarco said that would qualify “good Samaritans” for inclusion.