City to apply for $500K grant for ice rink

31 May 2017

After another winter without ice skating on the William Flanigan Ice Pond, the Common Council took action last week to begin a project which council members hope will guarantee a place to skate for many winters to come.

At their May 24 meeting, the council authorized the submission and acceptance of grant funds not to exceed $500,000 from the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation for the William Flanigan Ice Rink/Sports Arena Construction Project.

Mayor Michael Smith explained that the pond, which sits at the end of Fawn Avenue, would be reconstructed into an ice rink arena for skating from October to April.

“It would be covered,” said council member Michael Lonto, a recreation commission member. “And also in the summertime, it could be used for indoor soccer, box lacrosse or even T-ball. At least this way we could get multiple uses, which is what we’re looking for in use for the facility.”

The mayor said the city submitted the grant but must wait a year because Salamanca received a similar grant already. Smith added that they can resubmit the grant next year and could receive it at that time.

“The (Seneca Nation of Indians) is willing, at this point, to dive in and do half the cost,” Mayor Smith said. “They still have to approve it, but this is just checking off a box that we need to approve our submission of our grant.”

“We’d like to thank our county representatives for being a part of this,” Mayor Smith said. “It’s a chance to use a lot of money to improve our ball fields at Crowley Park.”

The council further authorized Mayor Smith to sign and submit any relevant applications materials to both the county and the Olean Business Development Corporation, agreeing to indemnify Cattaraugus County in connection with such project.

What started as a plan offered by Wes Long of Portville, president of the Olean Little League, to bring up to 16 baseball fields in Olean, Salamanca, Allegany, Portville, Ellicottville and Franklinville, has expanded to include other ball fields.

In April, Long estimated the $600,000 from county surplus could be recouped in two years with the sales tax and bed tax revenue from two tournaments in 2018 and four in 2019. He estimated the cost to bring 16 baseball fields up to tournament standards is $1.1 million and is committed to raising the remaining $500,000.

“We’re taking care of them anyway, so the selling point was we’d agree to maintain such repairs,” Mayor Smith said. “We’re doing that anyway, except now instead of taking care of a field rated ‘X’ we’re taking care of a field rated ‘A.’”

As the modified baseball coach at the junior-senior high school, the mayor said there is a good sized program of kids coming up and a new field would give them somewhere nice to play and show more Salamanca pride.

Mayor Smith said the plan is to form a series of county-wide baseball tournaments that will draw hundreds of teams of different age levels to the county to use all the fields throughout the tournaments. To be at the level the fields need to be for such tournaments, the he said they would include new fences, pitchers mounds and dugouts.

It’s not clear whether the $600,000 county investment will be enough to add baseball fields that were not being considered for use in tournament play. The $600,000 will come from the county’s $43 million surplus.