BUFFALO - Representatives from Erie Community College joined an expansive fleet of local leaders and legislators on Thursday afternoon to mark the official completion of its extensive Burt Flickinger Athletic Center renovation with a press conference and commemoration outside the second floor entrance of its City Campus center's natatorium.
"This project is just another sign of ECC's commitment to not just the residents of Erie County, but also to the City of Buffalo," said ECC President Jack Quinn. "We embrace our role here, and we're always striving to enhance it."
The $5.7 million project - which involved HVAC equipment replacement, a complete roof system replacement and construction of a new facility penthouse - posed a major challenge to those associated with work, as they'd only have the college's summer break to complete the project. But, with all systems fully functional for the current semester, tireless and precise efforts from the Wendel Duchscher Architects and Engineers-led teams involved have not only solidified the facility's functionality for ECC, but also for surrounding region of Erie County and the City of Buffalo.
"The improvements to the Flickinger Center represent not only an investment in Erie Community College, but in our downtown area as well," said Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz. "Not only is this modernized facility poised to draw visitors for local, regional, and national competitions, it brings those visitors downtown to stay in our hotels, eat in our restaurants, and shop in the City."
County Legislator Lynn M. Marinelli (D-Buffalo, Tonawanda), chair of the Community Enrichment Committee and a vital cog in the Flickinger renovation efforts, seconded the County Executive's sentiments.
"This great facility is a revenue generator that has attracted major athletic events to Buffalo and Erie County, and will continue to do so. The Atlantic 10, SUNYAC and MAAC swimming championship tournaments, the STAR swimming championships and other events not only attract athletes and families to the Flickinger Athletic Center, these athletes and families and fill our hotels and patronize our restaurants, cultural centers and other businesses."
Since opening in 1993, the Burt Flickinger Athletic Center has hosted regional athletic events for area clubs, high schools and colleges, as well as the World University Games in its inaugural year. As attendees filed around the afternoon's speakers, a Monsignor Martin swim meet between St. Mary's and Holy Angels took place in the center's natatorium. With its renovations complete, the venue is now equipped to continue in this role as regional host for the foreseeable future, one that NYS Senator Tim Kennedy (D-Buffalo) thinks will prove advantageous as Buffalo's downtown rises around it.
"The completion of the Flickinger Center renovation is another step forward as we build the momentum surrounding the resurgence of downtown Buffalo," said Kennedy.
This project is just another sign of ECC's commitment to the City of Buffalo and its downtown surroundings. Aside from this necessary Flickinger project, over the past five years, they've spent over $25 million on City Campus renovations, including work on 45 Oak; the current $10 million roof and masonry renovation of its historic 1898 City Campus academic building; an ongoing student-led renovation of the dilapidated Fireman's Park between North and South Division; and plans for a brand new Automotive Student Training Center - the first of its kind in Western New York - in conjunction with St. John the Baptist's church.
"The roof replacement project at [this facility] is another reason I am proud to have the ECC City Campus and this facility in the First District, which I represent," said County Legislator Timothy R. Hogues (D-Buffalo). "Such an updated athletic facility increases the value of the education that ECC provides and helps Erie County's economic status."
The event's speakers included ECC President Jack Quinn; Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz; Erie County Legislator Lynn Marinelli; NYS Senator Tim Kennedy; NYS Assemblymen Crystal Peoples-Stokes and Michael P. Kearns; Buffalo Common Council President Richard Fontana; Visit Buffalo Niagara President Dottie Gallagher-Cohen; ECC Board of Trustees Chairwoman Patricia Mertz; and ECC Trustee Stephen Boyd.