Canal Boat Project No Longer Welcome in Lockport.

January 27, 2012 Updated Jan 27, 2012 at 8:45 PM EDT

By Ed Reilly

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January 27, 2012 Updated Jan 27, 2012 at 8:45 PM EDT

(Lockport, NY) Michael Weekes idea to build a replica 19th-century Erie Canal boat started with much fanfare.

Weekes was planning to use $40,000 of his own money to build the historic replica.

Thinking the project would be good for tourism, unused warehouse space was donated by a local non-profit agency, and construction began in early December.

What started with much promise only a few weeks ago, has now sunk into a controversy.

Questions about the boat's ownership and use, prevented fund raising efforts from materializing.

Local participants who were trying to get the project going, have dropped their support.

The Dale Association, a human-service agency that donated the empty warehouse space, told Weekes he has to take his partially constructed boat and go somewhere else.

The decision was prompted by $1,500 in bills for heat, electric and fuel costs that the Dale Association incurred.

"The lesson learned is that, take a few extra weeks to establish your fund raising and marketing strategy before you begin construction," says Michael Weekes.

With his welcome worn out in Lockport, Michael Weekes is hoping he can move his project to Buffalo.

Weekes told Eyewitness News that he is contacting company owners about finding empty space to build his canal-era boat.

He also has plans to talk with officials about possibly constructing the boat in Buffalo's Canalside area.

"People could participate, pick up a hammer, or a glue gun, or something, and actually be part of creating a real, genuine, functioning artifact of what made Buffalo unique and special in our American story," comments Weekes.

With the hull portion of the boat still in Lockport, Weekes is now hoping he can find volunteers to help him with his project.

"They can contact me at yellowstone_mike@yahoo.com," added the boat builder.