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Salamanca school, city to discuss Vets Park future (Updated)

A meeting of the Salamanca Recreation Commission has been set for April 23 for the city and Salamanca City Central School District to discuss a potential facilities project at Veterans Memorial Park.

For several months, school and city officials have been discussing the possibility of renovating or repairing much of the city-owned park, particularly its athletic fields.

“The long-term goal of this is it will build the community,” said Common Council member Michael Lonto, R-Ward 3.

In a conversation with the Press, Lonto, the recreation commission chair, said school superintendent Robert Breidenstein is supposed to attend the meeting with the commission. He said he was not aware if any other school officials would attend.

Calls made to Breidenstein seeking comment were not returned by press time Tuesday.

In its December meeting, the recreation commission discussed the logistics of what a major project at Vets Park would include, as well as ownership and responsibility of maintaining it.

According to Lonto, the tentative plans for the park include replacing the entire earth field area with artificial turf so bigger events and tournaments could be held there. He said removing some trees for more open space, installing locker rooms, building a new playground and re-positioning the football and lacrosse field could also be considered.

“It’ll be up to the city and the school district to push for this,” Lonto said.

So far, the commission has gone through a lot of the minor procedures, Lonto said, including receiving approval from the Seneca Nation of Indians to sublet the property. Even though New York state donated the land to the city, the city pays a lease to the Nation because it is on Native territory.

“We’ll be looking at a long-term lease for that,” he explained. “But all of this is going to depend on being approved in the school’s budget.”

The school district approved its tentative 2018-19 budget April 10, so allocating funds for a project at Vets Park would have to be included in next year’s budget at the earliest.

In April 1927, the park was dedicated as a memorial of Salamanca soldiers. Following a fundraising drive, development on the former state nursery plot off Broad Street began the following month.

The city has hosted several large events in the park for many years, most notably the Marvin Joe Curry Veterans Pow Wow. In July 1989, the first Native American powwow dance competition was held at Veterans Memorial Park. More than 200 dancers from across the United States and Canada competed in the event.

The school district currently uses the park for several of the school’s athletic events, notably as the home field for the varsity football and lacrosse games.

“I’m excited about it,” Lonto said. “Once we get everything done, we’ll have a showcase field.”

UPDATE - 4/24/18

SALAMANCA — The Salamanca Recreation Commission and offic