LOCKPORT – The Lockport City School District may include a driveway through Kibler Park in a capital project referendum this May, despite word from Albany that no state aid will be available for the work.
The district wants to acquire the park from the city, a move that would require state legislation. It wants the land for a new driveway to Roy B. Kelley Elementary School, which is being expanded to take in students displaced by the planned closure of Washington Hunt Elementary School in June.
District officials say there are already traffic jams around Kelley each morning and afternoon, and an exit from the back of the school would relieve them.
“We haven’t discussed it in quite a while,” Mayor Michael W. Tucker said.
He had previously told nearby residents who came to a Sept. 19 Common Council meeting to protest the prospect of losing the park that the city wouldn’t give the park away if residents opposed it.
Money for the project could be appropriated from a district capital reserve fund, according to Superintendent Michelle T. Bradley and Deborah Coder, assistant superintendent for finance and management services. The fund currently contains a little more than $5 million.
“We were aware [legislation] could take up to a year,” Coder said. “A referendum can include several areas. Just because voters say yes, sometimes work doesn’t get done. … It takes the state Education Department 18 months to approve a project.” “I believe the architect was saying $500,000 [to build the driveway],” Bradley said. “But there’s other site work that would need to be done at Roy B. Kelley, such as expanding parking lots.”
The use of the reserve fund would prevent the project from having any direct impact on property taxes, Coder said.
Bradley said a Board of Education committee is currently considering which items to include in a capital projects vote at the May 21 district election. She said the committee probably wouldn’t report until the board’s March 6 meeting.