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Locks Heritage group kicks off funding appeal

LOCKPORT – The organization that operates the original Erie Canal locks in Lockport has set a $27,000 goal for a funding appeal.

The Locks Heritage District Corp. already has more than 10 percent of the goal in hand, president David R. Kinyon said.

The money will be applied toward the operating and maintenance costs for the Flight of Five, the 19th-century locks which are in the process of being refurbished. Two of the five stairstep locks were returned to working order in 2014, and a third is slated to be restored this year.

The Common Council, using money from an Empire State Development grant, on Wednesday approved a $129,357 contract with Bergmann Associates of Rochester to provide the engineering services for the third lock.

Kinyon said the fund appeal has no deadline. Last year, contributions came in as the year went on. Targeted mailings to businesses and individuals will be used to try to come up with the money, Kinyon said.

Donors will be offered perks depending on the size of their donations. They will range from 10 percent discounts on advertising and sponsorships to a 24-by-36-inch print of “Guardian of the Waters,” the canal-themed mural painted on the wall of a Main Street building last year.

Kinyon said package deals include ads in this year’s city visitor guide, which the Locks Heritage group is attempting to complete during March.

John Van Benschoten, a board member, said foundation gifts are being sought to pay for a statuary group, the Lock Tenders Tribute, to be created by Youngstown sculptor Susan Geissler in imitation of a late 19th-century photograph of canal workers.

Construction of the gateway and signage project for Canal Street overlooking the locks also is on tap this year. The Council awarded a $322,000 contract to Scott Lawn Yard of Sanborn Wednesday.

In November, Yahoo gave the locks group a $42,000 grant to buy a temporary boat to use in demonstrations of how the locks worked and erect 10 interpretive signs, but the money must be spent this year.

“Our long-term goal is still to have a replica boat built,” Kinyon said.

Another fundraising event coming up is a special canal cruise, to be chaired this year by former Alderman Kenneth M. Genewick and his wife, Michelle. American Concrete will be the lead sponsor for the cruise, whose date has not yet been determined, Kinyon said.