City Has Safety Concerns With Pond Hockey Tourney

BUFFALO, NY - Buffalo Common Council members are raising some safety concerns about an upcoming pond hockey tournament in the city. The issues don't have anything to do with the play on the ice, but where the Labatt Pond Hockey tourney will be held.

The pond hockey tournament is still on and it's supposed to be played at the proposed site of the Buffalo Riverworks project.

Council members and the city's department of public works are concerned about whether the location is safe enough to host the tourney.

"We have a very short window to complete the work that we have started, we've been working like dogs down there," said Doug Swift, one of the developers behind the Buffalo Riverworks project. He's also behind the preparations for this year's Labatt Pond Hockey tournament.

The tourney is slated to be at the Riverworks planned site on Ganson Street right outside several old silos. The area is primarily an industrial zone.

"I want to take every precaution as I mentioned, it's a heavily industrialized area and I just have major concerns," said Christopher Scanlon, a member on the council.

Others including Scanlon, have uncertainty of whether the Riverworks project should be approved and opened to more foot and vehicular traffic. The concern also rests with the pond hockey tournament, which attracts more than 800 players and several thousand people.

The city is working on a plan with the developers to solve the issues.

"One thing in having a multi fixed-use where we have tractor trailers and a lot of pedestrian traffic where we typically do not have that much pedestrian traffic need to be looked at very clearly," said commissioner Steve Stepniak of Buffalo's public works department.

Developers are in the process of building the rinks, but work has been suspended until the city renews a permit that recently expired so construction can resume.

"No I think it's absolutely going to be a done deal, we're going to make sure, we're going to do everything we can," said Swift.

And Labatt hopes there's hockey, writing in a statement: "We're confident they're [Riverworks] doing everything they can to get the rinks built in time for the tournament and we're still planning to be on the ice this February."

On Thursday, the developers and the city will meet to go over issues related to the hockey tournament. Next Tuesday, Common Council is expected to vote on whether to approve the Riverworks project. And then, the developers want to get the required permit to get back to work on the tournament's preparations.


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