BY JOE OLENICK
Lockport Union-Sun & Journal
Lockport Union-Sun & Journal —
The Labatt Canal Concert Series is over in the City of Lockport.
Mayor Michael W. Tucker said Wednesday the city cannot afford to fund the series any longer. The free shows cost Lockport about $125,000 each year, an expense city officials said might be too great for Lockport to justify in a tough financial environment. A termination letter is being sent to the concert series promoter.
"The concert series as we know it is over," Tucker said. "But I think it has been a very good thing for our city overall."
The city is facing a tough budget situation, as the state comptroller this week called Lockport a city with "moderate fiscal stress." Expected dates for a budget hearing and vote were pushed back this week to the end of October.
Budget talk has included discussion of layoffs, a topic for the Common Council on Wednesday when members went into executive session.
"You can't have layoffs and concerts," said Common Council President Anne McCaffrey.
The concert series came to Lockport in 2008, bringing a show each Friday night for about eight to nine weeks each summer. However, with the city dealing with a host of financial challenges, the cost of the series has been a topic of budget conservation for the past few years.
This year's series, moved from the Ulrich City Centre to a municipal parking lot on Chestnut Street, was plagued from the start as the first show was canceled in light of the citywide flooding that occurred in June. Another show was cut short because of rain, although a last-minute show was booked to help salvage a concert.
Still, it's believed the series brought a lot of people to Lockport and helped out some city businesses. Third Ward Alderwoman Kathryn J. “Kitty” Fogle said she hopes something can take the place of the Canal Concert Series.
"I really feel that'll bring younger people here," she said.
Tucker said the city is looking into providing an alternative. A series of free concert shows that would not cost the city anything – not even in personnel costs. The mayor said he was in talks with an individual "who feels he can put on a concert series at no cost to the city.
"That could happen," Tucker said. "He knows what he's doing."
Tucker declined to give details, but said he felt the series could have the same caliber as the Canal Concert Series.Contact reporter Joe Olenick at 439-9222, ext. 6241 or follow him on Twitter @joeolenick.