Grand Island town board gives Gus Macker conditional approval

GRAND ISLAND, N.Y. (WIVB) – Months after the announcement was made that the annual Gus Macker tournament would be held in Grand Island at the end of August, town leaders were still hammering out the details of how that would happen at a work session Wednesday morning.

It was the latest of several meetings between the town board and the event producer trying to sort out the details before the board would give the green light for the three-on-three basketball tournament. During the work session Wednesday morning, the board voted 3-1 in favor of granting conditional verbal approval, which it will formalize with a resolution at its next full meeting. This approval clears the way for the event producer to formalize his request with the state DOT to shut down a road for the tournament, and it allows him to begin actually promoting the tournament and getting teams signed up.

“This thing is planned, we’re ready to go, everything is in place. It could happen tomorrow if we had the teams,” Corey McGowan, the event producer, said. “So now that we finally have this official approval, it’s great. Now we can go after those teams and make sure this thing is a hit.”

The board’s approval is conditional, however. After a lot of discussion about the details,  the board’s vote to give the green light is dependent on getting an updated operations plan, getting a formal contract for EMS services during the event, and getting a revised security plan detailing the number and coordination of privately hired security officers with local police. Part of the discussions Wednesday revolved around alleviating concerns that state police and the sheriff’s office would be stretched too thin to help because there is a Bills game and the state fair the same weekend the Gus Macker is scheduled to take place.

“This will be a secure event and we’re hoping it’s going to come off great,” said Councilman Chris Aronica after hearing McGowan’s explanation about how the 20 private security officers who will be brought in for the tournament will be used.

Still, for Councilman Gary Roesch, concerns persist. He was the lone council member to vote against granting permission for the tournament. He says he heard from a lot of people that said they didn’t want the tournament to come to town, including some nearby property owners who he says worried they would need to get additional insurance to guard against any lawsuit should anything happen outside the official perimeter of the tournament. Further, he said he had concerns about people tailgating outside the tournament.

The Gus Macker in Grand Island will be an alcohol-free event.

After the rest of the town board voted in favor of giving the green light for the finalized Gus Macker plans, Roesch said he hoped for the best for the tournament.

“I hope it’s a successful event. I really, really do. I hope I’m proven wrong, that there’s not going to be any issues or concerns, and I pray to God that there won’t be,” he said.

Assuming all the board’s conditions are met, the Gus Macker will go ahead as scheduled on August 29 and 30. Registration for teams is open through August 15.

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