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LOCKPORT – The Erie Canal Discovery Center is submitting a request for a state grant to pay for a working model of the 19th-century Erie Canal locks.

The Lockport Common Council passed a resolution last week supporting the request, which the center needed in order to submit its request today.

Melissa Dunlap, executive director of the History Center of Niagara, the Discovery Center’s parent organization, said the center is applying for $75,000 to $80,000 to pay for construction plans.

The working model of the Flight of Five, as the original canal locks are known, is to be set up outdoors next to the Discovery Center at Church and Ontario streets. It is to include scale-model boats going up and down the five stair-step locks.

Two of the locks in the real Flight of Five are slated for restoration next year. Hohl Industrial Services of the Town of Tonawanda was the low bidder on the restoration work at $1.74 million.

The model, whose size won’t be determined until the design is completed, will be what Dunlap called a concession device. In other words, visitors will have to pay to see the model work.

“This is part of the whole interpretation plan” for the restoration, Dunlap said.

She said she hopes the model will be complete sometime during the 2014 tourist season.

The Council also gave its stamp of approval to another state grant application: that of the Historic Palace Theatre for up to $450,000 for interior renovations.

In other matters at the Council meeting, the aldermen awarded Rel Comm of Rochester a $28,640 contract to replace the City Hall phone system.

Consultant Julie Dotton, who was paid $10,000 for her services, said the city will receive new analog and digital phones, having no need to spend the extra money for voice-over-Internet service. That would have cost about $350,000, Dotton said; it could be added in the future if needed.

The Council turned down a lower bid of $23,831 from Ivergent of Amherst. Dotton said they offered hardware that couldn’t record phone calls, which was unsuitable for the needs of the Police and Fire departments.

The Council also held a public hearing on renewing the 4 percent “bed tax” on hotel and motel bills, most of which is sent to the Niagara Tourism and Convention Corp., the county’s tourism promotion agency. However, no action was taken.

Mayor Michael W. Tucker said the notion of raising the tax to 5 percent to pay for the Towpath Trolley, the city’s summer tourist shuttle, is on hold until he discusses the idea with hoteliers. He said the Council will probably vote on a three-year renewal of the 4 percent tax, with the increase to be added later.

The Council also voted to give some old bleachers, rotting away behind the city highway garage, to the Cambria Fire Company, which will add new wood and set them up on its ball diamonds.

email: tprohaska@buffnews.com