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Ice rink: Town of Lewiston Board receives good news from Dashineau

Sat, Feb 18th 2017 06:55 am
Town Parks/Recreation Director Mike Dashineau unveiled a list of improvements for Pletcher Road Park at Monday's Town Board work session. (Photo by Terry Duffy)
Town Parks/Recreation Director Mike Dashineau unveiled a list of improvements for Pletcher Road Park at Monday's Town Board work session. (Photo by Terry Duffy)

By Terry Duffy

Editor-in-Chief

Town Parks/Recreation Director Michael Dashineau had some upbeat news for Lewiston residents and the Town Board on Monday.

The much-discussed Lewiston Family Ice Rink went through its 2016 Christmas holiday season with no major financial problems to speak of. In fact, the town learned this week that the rink ended its operations in the black, with money left over for next season.

And operating figures were well below the initial cost estimates for the rink's 60-day-plus, just-completed season.

As town residents may recall, as the Lewiston Family Ice Rink's 2016 holiday operations were being discussed in town budget talks last fall, prospects were not good. The town was looking at a staggering $93,000 rink operations budget and not enough money to pay for rink operations. As the days approached the early December Christmas Walk opening, the town actually mulled cancelling the rink's 2016 season altogether.

But that was before a cost operations restructuring by Dashineau, and a successful community fundraising effort. Together, these efforts saved the 2016 holiday season. One week before the Dec. 2 grand opening, Dashineau reported a fine-tuning of costs had lowered the rink budget to the $74,000 range, the campaign raised close to $20,000, and the holiday skating season would go on.

The results were better than expected.

Dashineau reported revenue from sponsors, which was expected to be $18,600, amounted to $18,200. Daily operations revenues, however, exceeded expectations. Dashineau the rink was expected to net $20,000, but actually finished with $30,000 tallied - 50 percent higher than expected. The rink averaged $593 in daily revenue for its first 42 days.

What's more, Dashineau said some favorable numbers are now at hand for next year.

"The operations cost was $35,780 to date," he said, adding that factors only the rink itself and labor costs. Outside costs such as restoring the park were not factored in. "You're looking at $56,000 that we spent." He said the original total rink operations cost estimate was in excess of $90,000.

"So we're a lot lower in expenditures, and we took in a little more money than we thought," Dashineau said. "Bottom line: It cost us less than we thought, and we've taken in more than we thought."

Dashineau detailed some projects in planning for 2017. He said Sanborn-area residents could be looking forward to some welcome improvements to the well-used but dated Sanborn Park on Buffalo Street.

"It's time to take care of some needed upgrades there," Dashineau said, as he offered the Lewiston Town Board a wish list of improvements eyed for the town park. The property is owned by the Sanborn Volunteer Fire Co. and leased to the town.

Dashineau discussed a list of needs and wants he reviewed earlier with Sanborn fire officials, who he said were enthusiastic about the potential for park improvements, funding of which could come from Niagara River Greenway and other sources.

"I was able to meet with the Sanborn Fire Co.; we try to meet with them a couple times a year to see what they need to do," Dashineau said.

He went on detail five improvement areas on the fire company's wish list. "Some of it is tied in with some capital work (already) being done," Dashineau said. He noted Lewiston Highway Department Superintendent Dave Trane has also been involved. "It's simple things, like drainage in the park, water flows that we need to be addressed."

Dashineau said the fire company would also like to get its seasonal ice rink (weather dependent) into greater use.

"That's something going forward. I'll have the funds from our big ice rink (at Academy Park) to support that ice rink as well," Dashineau told the board. "The way we talked about doing it, it wouldn't cost us much, and it would be a big benefit."

Other improvements eyed for the park would involve historic preservation - namely for the Sanborn Park band shell.

"That band shell was built a long time ago," Dashineau said. "All they've done is basic maintenance. We talked about the band shell, the historic significance of it" for refurbishing.

Dashineau said he intends to work with town grant-writer Bernie Rotella on the possibility of securing some type of tourism-related funding for this project rather than pursuing Greenway monies. He said the fire company provided a history of the band shell's varied use over the years, noting past state governors and political figures who have visited. He told board members he would share that information when pursing grants.

Other potential improvements for the park involve handicapped accessibility.

"The sidewalks there, it wasn't done correctly (in the past)," Dashineau said.

He would also like to see some remodeling of the park's bathrooms.

"They have two fully functioning bathrooms at the park they really don't get any use out of. It sits on a stone and concrete pad; it's just a basic bathroom," he said.

Dashineau said, compared to those found in the town's other parks, Sanborn needs "a little brightening up, do a little remodeling to get some better community use out of it" - something the fire company has been looking for, considering the volume of events held at the park each year.

Still another improvements would be installation of a new LED electrical sign on Buffalo Street and new, high-efficiency LED lighting for the ice rink area in the park.

"Sanborn was able to give us a list of all the different events that they have," Dashineau said of the overall parklands and area eyed for the rink. "There's quite a bit; an LED sign makes sense."

As to new lighting for the seasonal ice rink, "Not stadium lighting, but two 400-watt LED lights there, to allow them to use the ice rink," Dashineau said.

"All we have to do is get that area more level. You could talk about doing bocce ball there; you could talk about anything," Dashineau said. He told board members movie nights in the park could even be another popular summer attraction. "Right now, there are no lights in that park,"

Dashineau said he would pursue prices for the project.

"I've already taken some steps to get a nice solid price on that," he said. "The parks department has two different capital accounts. We have Greenway money. I did sit down with Bernie; we have a couple of different options with Greenway.

"Both Sanborn Park and Pletcher Road have already been approved for consistency (by Greenway) when it comes to these upgrades. ... It's just a matter of going to the Host Committee and getting this on to our already existing park needs."

Once the project is complete, Dashineau said the fire company would work with the town in managing the park's improvements and operations.

Board members learned an LED sign at the park would have to gain a use variance for the fire company to conform to an older town law on signage. Building Inspector Tim Masters indicated that would be a procedural action.

Dashineau also discussed plans for the well-used Pletcher Road Park on the town's north end.

"Pletcher Road Park is an active park," he said. "We bring people in to that park. It's a growing neighborhood. We do baseball programs, softball programs."

Dashineau said these are all revenue generators for the town.

He said the town's Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee has discussed using capital funds to handle park improvements at Pletcher, as well as future maintenance costs. Under consideration are a number of projects, from addressing drainage issues to redoing the bathroom/concessions building, to installing "true turf baseball fields" at the park, adding more parking areas and trails.

"A lot of parks department money right now is spent specifically on the baseball fields, maintaining them. Baseball is a very expensive sport to maintain," Dashineau said.

Noting the success the town has had with its baseball field at Washuta Park, Dashineau suggested the town consider a similar "true turf" setup, allowing for greater field shelf life for Pletcher. This, he said, would allow the town to build on its already successful baseball and softball programs.

To complement that, he suggested the town also redo its concession/bathroom building to better accommodate weekend visitors, and do something to add additional parking at the park. Both are completely inadequate at present, Dashineau said. He noted the original designs at Pletcher were never completed.

Still more ideas eyed for the park are new trails to connect it the developing French Landing and River Walk neighborhoods.

"I would be in support of that," Supervisor Steve Broderick said. He called the suggestions "positive ideas" for the park.

Dashineau said the Niagara River Greenway Commission would likely be considered as a potential funding source for the improvements.

Discussions closed with Dashineau advised to look further into the project costs and arrive at actual figures.

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