Lockport, NY - A Lockport family business that has kept kids skating and entertained since the 80's may be in its final weeks of operation. The owners of Skateland are struggling to pay their back taxes while many in the community hope some way can be found to save it.
Under the glittering mirrored ball, people from Lockport and miles around have rolled round and round for decades at the Skateland roller skating complex. And those who work there now, know it holds fond memories for generations dating back to the late 70's. As employee Bobby McKeown says "Brings kids, it brings families closer together. You listen to the music skating out there on the floor. It's just a fun job."
But the jobs of 25 staffers and all the fun could end May 16th. That's the deadline date for owners Brian and Lori Ferraro, former roller skating champs and coaches themselves, to pay the City of Lockport nearly $57,700 dollars in back taxes. Or they face foreclosure on the Lincoln Avenue complex which includes miniature golf, a bounce house, gaming arcade, and newly added Lasertron room.
They took a financial hit that hurts according to co-owner Lori Ferraro. "Roller skating lost its natural luster after the 80's. It was a very popular era in the 70's and 80's and we were very successful for many, many years. Nationally rink numbers have declined significantly since then, based on a decline in interest combined with the increased costs of liability insurance."
Another employee Kelsey Dickerson told us "I would probably cry if it closed because I've made so many friends working here and Brian and Lori are amazing bosses. They really try to make this a place for kids to come and just really have fun."
Lori Ferraro says she was heartened and humbled by all the community and business support after she went public with their plight on Facebook back in March. But despite raising $20,000 dollars in recent weeks from various decisions, they face losing this family run business which has catered to families since 1985.
Still they have hope someone might come forward for a business that tries to keep kids off the streets with wholesome fun.
Ferraro says "If someone out of the goodness of their heart can and has interest in the youth and what we're trying to serve, then we would be open to that."
The Skateland building actually opened in 1979 under a previous owner and ironically the Ferraro family acquired it through foreclosure in 1985. The family has a similar business which was thriving in Lake George with the tourist trade. They have tried to sell Skateland but so far no takers. They'd love to keep this Lockport center open and did see a recent uptick in business when some other local roller rinks closed. Unfortunately it was too little too late.
Lockport city officials say they don't want to be the bad guys and wish the law didn't force them to foreclose. There was an idea to put a city recreation center in part of the building and keep it open that way but it fell through.