LOCKPORT – The Common Council decided Wednesday to refuse a request from high school classmates of the late Buffalo Police Officer Patricia A. Parete to rename a city park in memory of the Lockport native.
Instead, the Council decided to offer a nonfunctioning, crumbling fountain in Outwater Park as a memorial space for the fallen officer – if her friends will pay for fixing it up.
Last month, Joseph DiPasquale, who was the president of the Lockport High School Class of 1983, suggested renaming Rogers Avenue Park after his classmate.
Parete, 48, died Feb. 2. She was a quadriplegic for more than six years after being shot while trying to quell a fight outside a Buffalo convenience store.
However, neighbors objected to the idea of making a change, even though the park is named after a street, not a person.
“I think the consensus is, we will not be renaming Rogers Park as Parete Park,” said Council President Anne E. McCaffrey, R-2nd Ward.
But McCaffrey said she and Alderwoman Kathryn J. “Kitty” Fogle, R-3rd Ward, toured Lockport’s 27 parks, looking for a suitable memorial, and they settled on the defunct fountain recessed in the ground in Outwater Park, across the road from the park’s overlook on the edge of the Niagara Escarpment.
Fogle said the Parete memorial doesn’t have to be a fountain but that it could be something else to replace the crumbling concrete and bricks.
“Where else better to put a memorial? And you could stick a flag in the middle,” Fogle said. “It doesn’t work, and it looks terrible.”
“And the city gets something out of it,” McCaffrey said.
She and City Clerk Richelle J. Pasceri said the city needs some criteria for naming sites after people. Fogle agreed to head a committee to work on the issue.
“Then you’re going to get them coming out of the woodwork, saying, ‘I want something named,’ ” warned Alderman Joseph C. Kibler, R-at large.
Memorials have been a sensitive issue in Lockport for several years. Two years ago, the Council rejected a request from the family of Spc. Albert R. Jex, a soldier killed in Iraq, to name a bridge over the Erie Canal after him. Jex ended up with a bench on Locust Street across from the Metro Bus stop.
McCaffrey said that there are a number of old memorials in city parks and that a catalog of them needs to be compiled. Pasceri wondered whether Parete’s classmates would take the responsibility for maintaining a memorial.
Alderman John Lombardi III, R-1st Ward, said, “We have to get permission from the unions, because it’s their job to take care of parks.”
“Well, they’re not doing a very good job if it looks like that,” Fogle shot back.
Lombardi said he didn’t think members of the city’s blue-collar union would object to a private group fixing up the fountain, but he said they need to be asked.