East Side Buffalo residents don’t want city officials to skate by without answering some questions on the progress of construction on the long-delayed splash pad and ice skating rink in Martin Luther King Jr. Park.
Samuel A. Herbert, of the Coalition to Save Martin Luther King Park, convened a public meeting Monday night in the Frank E. Merriweather Library on Jefferson Avenue.
Herbert said he had invited Mayor Byron W. Brown, Commissioner of Public Works Steven J. Stempniak and the contractor for the project to the meeting. None of them showed.
“Their absence here tonight was predictable, because they have no answers,” Herbert told about a dozen residents who attended.
He said it has been nine months since city officials last updated the public on the water feature, which had been slated for completion last summer.
“Progress has been made. I want the city, the construction company and the design group to come before the public and update us. Give us a progress report,” Herbert said.
Among the questions he posed Monday: when will the fences barricading access to the water feature come down and will the rink be open for ice skating this winter?
Neither Michael J. DeGeorge, a spokesman for the mayor, nor contractor David Pfeiffer— owner of Man O’ Trees, the firm hired to do the work— could not be reached for comment.
Back in November, Stempniak told The Buffalo News that the five-acre concrete surface of the combination splash pad-ice skating rink had been just about finished. On Monday, Herbert said he was told that the concrete surface still needed to be sealed.
“They say, well, we can’t have ice skating right now because we have to treat the surface of the concrete with this sealant, a gravel-type sealant. … Well that was supposed to be done two months ago,” Herbert said.
He insisted that ice skating could be held on the surface without damaging the newly poured concrete.
“If it gets cold, we can do that, where the ice can freeze anywhere up to 3 to 4 inches. We can have ice skating on that 3 to 4 inches and the ice skating blades would never touch the surface of the newly poured concrete,” Herbert said.
In addition to seeking answers on what specific work has been done and what remains to be done, Herbert said residents want to know how much the city already has paid to Man O’ Trees and Wendel Engineers for their work on the $4.5 million project.
Herbert also urged those attending Monday night’s meeting to call the mayor’s office with their concerns.