Weekly Feature

2018-03-14 / Front Page

Hockey rink plans rejected

Town of Tonawanda

More than 50 people — including families with children wearing hockey jerseys — walked out of the council chambers after a first-step resolution toward a new ice rink was rejected at Monday night’s Tonawanda Town Board meeting.

When community members left the room, some directed their disappointed comments toward the board members, including that they “should be ashamed.”

In a 3-2 vote, the Town Board rejected a resolution to spend $400,000 to hire arena consulting and engineering services to begin planning for a new ice rink at Brighton Arena.

The resolution also included the possibility of reusing the town’s second ice rink at Lincoln Park as an indoor field house for sports such as soccer, lacrosse, baseball and softball, among others.

In favor of the resolution, Councilwoman Lisa Chimera said the town needs to invest in its facilities to attract younger families to the town.

“This project has been ongoing for two years. These hockey people have been waiting a long time,” said Councilman Dan Crangle, who was also in favor of the resolution.

Councilman John Bargnesi said it comes down to whether the town can afford it right now.

“There are needs and there are wants, and there are priorities,” he said during the meeting.

Bargnesi gave examples of priorities such as infrastructure and roads that need to be paved.

“Roads that we didn’t even have on the list ... roads that fell apart this winter. Additional funding has to be put into roads, has to be put into curbs,” Bargnesi said, noting that a priority is also continued dedication to water and sewer.

According to Bargnesi, the task of the Town Board is the priority townwide. He added that the town represents 75,000 people, and some people have been waiting years for infrastructure improvements.

“These facilities are 60 years old. If it’s built, it’s going to last another 50 to 60 years,” Crangle said regarding a rink. “ It’s a commitment to our young children and the community, and the adults that use these facilities.”

“There are as many kids playing outside of the Town of Tonawanda who live in 14217, 14223 and 14150 ZIP codes, as there are who are playing here, said Robert Gallagher, president of the Tonawanda Lightning Hockey Association.

He added that their ice demand is increasing.

Supervisor Joseph Emminger said the board has to make sure the numbers are right, and he said the cost is in flux.

It was also debated how much income a new rink and field house would bring to the town.

“The project is not being killed by any stretch of the imagination; we just need to get solid numbers,” he said.

“We’re making a 25-year decision here,” Emminger said, adding that this isn’t something that will happen within three to four years. “We got to make sure we do it right.”

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