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Groundbreaking for Alix Rice Peace Park held in Amherst

Michael Mroziak, WBFO

One day before the sixth anniversary of Alix Rice's death, a groundbreaking ceremony was held in the Town of Amherst for a future skate park to be named in her memory.

The Alix Rice Peace Park, to be located on a plot of land just north of the Northtown Center at Amherst, is expected to be completed by the fall. The project to get the park built began five years ago when the Alix Rice Peace Park Foundation was formed to create a memorial to the woman, who was riding home from work on her longboard when she was struck by a passing car on Heim Road in the evening hours of July 8, 2011.

Her mother, Tammy Schueler, admitted mixed feelings at the ceremony, having bad ones as the sixth anniversary approached but having good feelings that the park is finally under construction.

"By tying those two things together, I think what I really want to say is this is our opportunity, from this day forward, to celebrate Alix's life," Schueler said. "Who she was as a human being, and that her memory lives on with her values and her love for her community."

Money to pay for the park comes from years of fundraising efforts by the Alix Rice Peace Park Foundation, a grant from the Tony Hawk Foundation and State of New York. Mary-Diana Pouli, who directs the Town of Amherst's Youth and Recreation Department, says the thought of a skate park was first raised years ago but the town, by itself, didn't have the resources readily available. Then came the Alix Rice Peace Park Foundation, and a community partnership which made the park possible.

Credit WBFO file photo
The late Alix Rice.

"I think it's a real testament to our community and to these folks here about how everyone was willing to work together," she said. "That was the only way this was going to happen."

The driver who struck Alix Rice, Dr. James Corasanti, was found guilty of misdemeanor driving while intoxicated but was acquitted by a jury of charges including manslaughter, leaving the scene of an accident and evidence tampering. He served eight months in jail and, in 2015, reached a civil settlement with Rice's family.

State lawmakers have, for years, attempted to pass what is known as "Alix's Law," which seeks to close a loophole in cases of drunk drivers who flee the scene of an accident. The State Senate has passed it but, for the sixth time, has not come out of the Assembly.

Michael Mroziak is an experienced, award-winning reporter whose career includes work in broadcast and print media. When he joined the WBFO news staff in April 2015, it was a return to both the radio station and to Horizons Plaza.
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