The city of Lockport is in the process of changing its ward boundaries, but these changes would not take effect until 2021. The number of aldermen would remain at eight, with each ward ultimately continuing to have two representatives.
The City Council Wednesday night was presented with two options for consideration for redistricting the city to make wards align more contiguously and with clear boundaries.
The new proposed boundaries should make the city’s wards “more geographical and population neutral as possible,” which would “allow for better identification and enhanced citizen engagement,” according to a memo from Village Administrator Ben Benson and City Attorney Sonni Williams.
Benson later said that the City Council felt the current ward map implemented in 2012 was a result of “a lot of gerrymandering” and didn’t make sense otherwise.
“We didn’t think it was a good idea to subdivide subdivisions,” he said. “It was clear it was done for self-serving interests for people who appointed the map at the time.”
Of the two options presented to the council at its Committee of the Whole meeting Wednesday, council members and Mayor Steven Streit unanimously favored one called “Alternative E.”
According to this option, Farrell Road and Division Street essentially will divide the city into quadrants.
All of Ward 1 would fall east of Farrell Road and north of Division Street and all of Ward 2 would fall west of Farrell Road and north of Division Street.
All of Ward 3 would fall west of Farrell Road and south of Division Street and all of Ward 4 would fall east of Farrell Road and south of Division Street.
“It makes a lot more sense and is easy to understand for folks,” said Streit, who had directed staff to come up with new ward maps in June.
“Anything is better than what we have,” Alderman Jim Petrakos said. “My neighborhood was split right in half.”
Alderwomen Renee Saban and Joanne Bartelsen were selected to head the effort with consultation from Ruettiger, Tonelli and Associates.
With the new map, both Wards 1 and 3 show a decrease in population from their current ward counts with the gap between Ward 1 and Wards 2 and 4, which show an increase, being significantly lower. However, Saban said that these wards are where the city expects more growth.
“Our idea is it will catch up,” Saban said.