Lockport Business Association will host a public forum this month about the city’s plans for the municipal parking ramp.

The forum will be held at 6 p.m. March 25 at the Dale Association, 33 Ontario St.

Residents are invited to hear Mayor Michael Tucker’s presentation of his ideas for replacing the ramp and offer their suggestions for what to do with it.

“We really want others’ input” on the topic, LBA co-president Dianne Cross said. “Everyone’s ideas and questions are welcome.”

Tucker recently unveiled a proposal to raze the dilapidated ramp at Main and Pine streets and replace it with underground parking and above-ground retail storefronts. Engineering reports obtained last year suggest the existing ramp is permanently damaged and rehabilitation, at a cost of more than $2 million, would extract only 20 years more life from it.

Tucker proposes having a two-level underground structure built at the site, with nearly as many parking spaces as there are now, and retail shops erected from Main and Pine east to Urban Park Towers. Fountain Plaza between them would be torn out and the existing Lockport Walk of Fame relocated.

Key to his plan is utilization of the “overlook,” an area behind the ramp where views of the Erie Canal are unparalleled — but most people don’t know about because it’s hidden by the ramp.

Tucker’s plan would cost the city an estimated $5.8 million, most or all city taxpayer-funded through debt.

Tucker rolled out his presentation to LBA members a few weeks ago and said directors’ feedback was helpful. Cross herself suggested a way to bring attention to the overlook, by constructing an archway at its entrance, he said.

“This forum is a great idea, I think. It will give the public an opportunity to have a look for themselves and suggest their own ideas for what they’d like to see there,” Tucker said. “I’m all for laying it out for everybody. Obviously the taxpayers are paying for it; I want their input on it too.”

There are questions about the cost of ramp repair, who should pay it, who should operate it, whether building retail “spec” buildings is advisable, whether the city should try to find a private parking ramp operator — or even scrap the ramp entirely and sell the land as prime real estate.

Tucker told the Council last month that he wanted their feedback on the plan as soon as possible because he wants the city’s Request For Qualifications on a ramp/retail project done by April 1. He’s pushing back the deadline now to see what thought emerge in the public forum.

“I’m open to ideas. If somebody’s got something totally different in mind, I’ll listen,” he said.

Some city action to effect change at the Main/Pine corner will be taken, hopefully this year, Tucker added. The existing five-level ramp was declared a public hazard and was closed to traffic in the summer of 2006.

Contact reporter Joyce Miles at 439-9222, ext. 6245.

Trending Video

Recommended for you