Bill Buchholz had held tight to his dream that a Lancaster skate and bike park to be built in memory of his 14-year-old son killed by a drunken driver a year ago would be open by now.
But it’s not.
Instead, the father is learning a lesson in patience and perseverance. His family and friends of his son Bryce wanted a skate and bike area in a section of the town’s Keysa Park in the northeastern section of the village to be ready by this fall. Bryce was killed last year while riding home on his beloved orange BMX bike with a friend.
The initial fundraising goal was $150,000 to build the first phase of the skate park in Bryce’s honor. That had to be raised to $200,000 to adjust for additional revised project costs for the park.
That price tag was raised again – now edging up to $275,000.
The total raised so far is about $208,000, which means the Bryce Buchholz Memorial Fund supporters must raise another $67,000.
“It is somewhat disappointing that our goal of building the park in 2013 will not be realized,” Buchholz said last week. “We now focus all of our efforts toward completion on the spring of 2014.”
Buchholz acknowledged that building a reputable park of high-quality standards required additional funding. The vision is for a 12,000-square-foot concrete park featuring a series of stairs, walls and rails that would appeal to skateboarders and stunt bike riders. A memorial garden also is planned for the bike park, with a stone honoring Bryce.
But as volunteers approached the $200,000 funding goal, Buchholz said, town officials informed them the project would have to comply with the state-mandated “prevailing wage” law because the park will be built on public-owned land, town park property in this case.
“This was not only a disappointment, but certainly a setback in our project completion efforts,” he said in a statement.
Buchholz said the community group learned about the prevailing-wage compliance over the summer, long after the project was proposed. Lancaster Supervisor Dino J. Fudoli said it should not have come as a surprise and was understood a while ago by those involved. “It’s the law. They knew it from the get-go,” Fudoli said. “They probably didn’t know how much it would be. It’s New York State, and prevailing wages are required when it’s being built on public park land. We never said it would be anything but that.”
Buchholz insisted supporters are committed to seeing the park built and will continue to raise money but also hopes the village and town governments may be able to help ease the financial burden somehow.
“The private sector has already raised more than 80 percent of the established project cost, but we are still looking for sources that will help achieve getting past this last financial hurdle,” Buchholz said.
The park is to be designed by a Southern California company, though town leaders have not yet formally signed off on the project or approved its design.
The group also is counting on $16,600 in capital grant funding from the State Dormitory Authority – through the efforts of Assemblyman Dennis H. Gabryszak – to help them reach their new goal.
Gabryszak remained optimistic Thursday that the $16,600 in state funding would ultimately be approved. “I was very impressed with what the (group) was able to do with its fundraising. We met with the family,” he said. “We’re proceeding along the lines that it’s going to happen. It’s just a matter of when.”
Town official Terry McCracken said a formal agreement will have to be hashed out between the town and the group. “I’m sure the government delays are frustrating to the group,” said McCracken, general crew chief for the town’s Parks, Recreation & Forestry Department. “This project is not stalled. It’s just taking more time than some people would have thought.”