Niagara Gazette

Lewiston

May 11, 2014

Dispute with service groups could shift Artpark collection days for firefighters

Niagara Gazette — A disagreement brewing between the community's service organizations and the volunteers at Lewiston No. 1 Fire Co. may lead to a shift in days for the collection of funds.

For years, the two groups have battled for space and attention to collect donations from Artpark concert-goers. But those with the organizations like Heart & Soul and Care & Share food pantries say the fire department has been unfairly extending its territory and has sometimes encroached on the area the groups previously carved out for themselves.

Shari Elderman of Care & Share said there's going to be better opportunities for the firefighters to collect Wednesday nights, so the village should consider switching the longstanding agreement.

"More than 20 percent of our budget comes from our collections on Artpark concert nights," she said. "That particular night provides a number of opportunities. We'd gladly switch to Wednesdays but we can't get the volunteer commitments. So we'd like to discourage Tuesdays. There are beautiful Wednesday shows this year. Maybe they could use a different time."

Village trustees were set to approve the collection days for the firefighters this summer, though the conversation led to the foursome tabling the item until discussion can be completed with the fire and service volunteers.

Les Myers, of the fire company, said the village has not approached them to switch days of the week. However, he added, the company's collectors have agreed to remain only on Center Street for this upcoming concert season for the days they're permitted to collect.

"The problem between us and the other service organizations is we have permission to be on Center Street," Myers said. "We had enough volunteers to stray off Center Street ... which was confusing to people as there's another service organization at the gates to Artpark looking for donations. Our response to the village is we'll stay on Center Street for whatever days we're allowed to collect."

Village trustees next meet at 6 p.m. May 19 at village hall, 145 N. Fourth St., Lewiston. Myers said the company has been invited to attend to further discussions.

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