An outdoor hockey tournament planned for late February near the Buffalo River that was once in jeopardy looks like it will go on after all.
The city was concerned about safety and traffic issues and had held up approval of the new Buffalo RiverWorks entertainment complex, which contained the rinks. However, Mayor Byron W. Brown and South Council Member Christopher P. Scanlon said Monday that they are allowing it to move forward – as long as developers meet a host of conditions.
The news was a big relief to RiverWorks developer Doug Swift, who is under a deadline to get the rinks completed before the Labatt Blue Pond Hockey Tournament is held Feb. 21 and 22.
“These are all conditions we can easily live with and agreed to before this was voted on,” Swift said.
The conditional approval, which will be voted on by the Common Council today, includes a requirement that a safety agreement for future use of the entertainment complex be worked out with the city before the last day of the hockey tournament or the restricted-use permit will lapse. That would mean developers would not be able to proceed with the rest of the $15 million project.
Future plans for the site, a former grain silo at 333 Ganson St., include a brewery, restaurant and performing arts space, with construction beginning in the spring.
RiverWorks developers were most concerned with construction of the refrigerated outdoor rinks because of the deadline they are under. Construction on the rinks had been underway until the city pulled permits on Dec. 30, citing the safety concerns.
The conditions that must be met by RiverWorks include:
• Placing signage on Ohio and Michigan streets to guide visitors to Kelly Island. The visitors include RiverWorks’ guests, the general public and industrial users, who had complained about the project to the city Planning Board.
• Implementing security and traffic control at the pond hockey tournament, including paying the Buffalo Police Department for overtime costs associated with the event.
• Providing proof that the hockey event will have parking shuttles available for pond hockey participants and spectators.
• Ensuring that area sidewalks will be cleared of snow if necessary.
The support from Brown and Scanlon, and the Council’s decision to recommend approval during its pre-meeting caucus Monday, indicate the strong likelihood that the conditions will be approved at today’s meeting.