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Park to remember Lancaster teen gets funding approval

The memory of Lancaster High School freshman James Metz, killed in a plane crash in 2014, will live on in refurbished basketball courts and a roller hockey area in Keysa Park.

The Town Board on Monday paved the way for the park improvements, by approving $166,170 worth of improvements at the park, including nearly $18,000 worth of six basketball systems to be purchased from Bison Sports.

The bulk of the funding for the two-pronged project will be paid with donations raised through the James Metz Memorial Fund. So far, the group has raised about $125,000, with more fundraisers planned this spring, including a meat raffle on May 22 and another 5K race on June 4.

Town recreation filing fees will offset any outstanding balance, but the organization expects to have additional money to contribute as it gets closer to the project’s completion expected in early summer.

“The community is so good and so interested in doing things for the children of Lancaster,” said Lorraine Metz, one of James’ aunts. “We greatly appreciate all the help.”

She thanked the Town Board “so that we can all remember James fondly.”

Supervisor Johanna M. Coleman recused herself from voting on the bid awards for the park work since James was her nephew and her family is involved in the Metz Memorial Fund.

Steve Metz, James’ father, attended the board meeting with his younger son, Donovan, who helped brainstorm the fundraising effort with another relative at the time of his brother’s death in September 2014.

“It is a reminder that James lived, Bryce lived, and Stanley lived,” said Noreen Williams, another aunt to James Metz. “That’s what that park is all about.”

She was referring to the new Bryce Buchholz Memorial Skate and Bike Park, built within Keysa Park in memory of the 14-year-old Lancaster High School freshman who was killed by a drunken driver in 2012 while riding home on his BMX bicycle.

Williams was also talking about former Town Supervisor Stanley J. Keysa, a hometown legend who died in 2013 and for whom the park is named.

The town is expected to donate the use of its equipment to help with the work at the park.

In other business, the board approved an $8,500 updated conditions report to be done by Flynn Battaglia Architects for the town-owned Historical Building at 40 Clark St. The report will address repairs, restoration and replacements.

“I think we need a full restoration of it,” Councilman Ronald Ruffino Sr. said afterward. “This is our building and we need to take care of it.”