TOWN OF TONAWANDA, N.Y. — In hockey-hungry Western New York, a lot of communities have rinks.
The Town of Tonawanda has two, one each at Brighton Park and Lincoln Park. The problem is both rinks are 50-plus years old and the ice surface is undersized.
At the urging of hockey players, hockey parents and hockey organizations, town officials started looking into building a new rink. The price tag gave them pause: about $8 million.
So, the town government went looking for a partner in the Ken-Ton School District. It has three hockey teams; boys teams at Ken-East and Ken-West high schools and a girls team that plays with skaters from Grand Island.
What the school district also has is access to is state education building funds. If approved by the New York State Education Department, school construction projects can receive up to 76% reimbursement.
And that state funding it critical.
"All of this is going to revolve around state aid. If we don’t get the appropriate state aid everybody understand that this project can’t fly the way it’s currently conceived,” says Ken-Ton superintendent Stephen Bovino.
Another question is where to put a new rink. The choices are at Brighton, at Lincoln or at the town aquatic center. These are all town properties and it is unclear whether the district would need to lease or own the property where the rink is to be built to qualify for state funding.
And while town officials and Ken-Town school board members seems supportive of the project, there is a bit of a scheduling problem.
The school district anticipates a referendum on the rink project in December of 2019. The town would like some sort of commitment from the district by the end of this year.