Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — Concrete dams in either old lock will be modified or removed. Sediment that in spots is up to 5 feet high will be removed from the chambers and the original wooden lock flooring beneath will be replaced as needed. Original iron railings, showing the rope burns from boats being pulled by mules, will be preserved and replacement railings replaced. Lighting atop each lock will be returned, albeit electric rather than gas-powered. Existing masonry will be repaired or replaced only where necessary to assure visitors’ safety, Welsby said; the aim is to leave precious original stonework as intact as possible.
Then for the exciting part, Welsby said: “Massive” wooden gates and “huge” balance beams will be installed, so that the locks can be filled and emptied of water, and boat traffic moved through the locks, manually. The balance beams will be hinged, so their ends can be tucked in and not blocking the canal towpath when the locks are inactive.
The $2.6 million construction project is to be capped off with the floating of a full-size packet boat in the locks. The boat is to be built by volunteers under the supervision of Roger Allen, executive director of the Buffalo Maritime Center.
The boat will be constructed indoors, at Harrison Place, Allen and Kinyon confirmed. In response to a forum attendee’s speculation that up to several hundred community members will want in on the construction, Allen said, “that’s great,” meaning they’ll all be welcomed.
Boat construction won’t take place until the funding is raised, however. The Locks District Committee will solicit charitable funding once boat design yields an approximate construction cost, Kinyon said. An early estimate ran about $168,000.