In 2011, 18-year-old Alix Rice was struck and killed by a drunk driver while riding her longboard home from work in Getzville. In the years since, her mother has been working to open a public skate park in her memory.
Tammy Schueler's vision is finally coming to fruition after years of ups and downs. This Saturday is the grand opening of the Alix Rice Peace Park at the Northtown Center in Amherst.
“It’s been a roller-coaster,” Schueler laughed, just two days before the park's opening.
Following Rice's death, Schueler and her five-person team, the Alix Rice Peace Park Foundation, wanted to build a place for riders to skate safely. The 10,000 square foot concrete park includes two bowls and skatable features such as stairs, ramps and rails. A large constructed peace symbol has been built on the ground at one end.
"It’s a pretty impressive skate park for here in Western New York," Schueler said.
Schuler says he daughter loved longboarding and it had become her main mode of transportation.
“Alix just kind of… stumbled onto longboarding through a friend when we were living in Depew," Schueler said. “A friend of hers taught her how to ride and that was her main means of transportation for four years. She just loved it.”
Rice's death struck a chord with the community. The trial of Dr. James Corasanti, the man who struck her with his vehicle on July 8, 2011, received wide attention. Corasanti, who faced manslaughter among other charges, was found guilty only of misdemeanor driving while intoxicated and was sentenced to one year in jail.
Schueler says the foundation has received a lot of public funding but is responsible for footing the bill for the skate park’s insurance. To cover those costs, they are selling commemorative bricks for $100. Through Saturday, August 4, the Buffalo Sabres are donating a four-pack of tickets with each brick purchase (and on their website).
The bricks are available at the ribbon-cutting ceremony, which begins at noon on Saturday. The celebration will include live music, skating demonstrations and food trucks.