Fundraising for a revamped Railyard Skatepark at Outwater Park continues.

Members of Lockport Community Services and Friends of Railyard Skatepark provided a community update on fundraising progress, as well as concept renderings of a new, bigger concrete skatepark, over the weekend.

Two years ago, the partners in skatepark rebuilding secured up to $300,000 in grant funding from the Tony Hawk Foundation / Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Foundation. The larger grant was a matching grant; the foundations would match, dollar for dollar, however much the partners raised from other sources, up to $250,000, in a year. The fundraising deadline, December 2020, was extended another year due to the pandemic.

To date, the local partners have raised $151,500 — including a $125,000 pledge from the Grigg Lewis Foundation — and about $55,000 in grant applications are currently pending, according to John Craig, chair of Lockport Community Services.

Supporters are hopeful the fundraising goal will be exceeded and an 11,000-square-foot or larger concrete skatepark will be constructed in summer-fall 2022.

“The plan is to try and raise money from businesses and individuals and families so that we can create a maintenance fund, so once we build the park we can help support its maintenance and function for years to come,” Craig said.

The original, 8,000 square foot Railyard Skatepark was constructed in 2007, under the auspices of the nonprofit LCS. Since it was opened, safety concerns have emerged every spring and deteriorated wooden structures have been repaired on five occasions.

LCS and Friends of the Railyard Skate Park have been working with Mayor Michelle Roman to get a new skatepark in the city since 2019.

Roman’s son Josh, age 30, has been skating around Lockport since he was a child. Some of his friends and fellow skateboarders were in attendance at the skatepark meeting.

“When he was a teenager skating was illegal in the city; police would stop them all the time and confiscate skateboards,” Michelle Roman noted. “This group from Lockport Community Services said let's give you somewhere safe to skate, and that’s how this skate park came to be.”

LCS members felt strongly that local fundraising at the height of the pandemic was not a good idea, but additional funds will be needed down the line to extend the life of the new park. If the park includes greenery, seating, solar lights or a shelter, still more money will be needed. There is a Go Fund Me set up under Lockport Railyard 2022, or people can e-mail to provide donations.

National Go Skate Day will be recognized by the Railyard on June 20. A music outreach event is slated for Aug. 28 at the Niagara County Golf Course.

According to Roman, since its inception the Railyard has been one of the busiest parks in the city.

“I’m really excited that, no matter what, we are going to have a concrete skate park, hopefully by November 2022," she said. "Now we just need to determine how big and wonderful it is going to be.”

Once the funding goal is reached LCS will put out a Request For Proposals from designers and when one is selected they will plan to do renderings in six to eights months and then have people give input on particular design elements. The general public will be invited to vote on the final design.

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