Niagara Gazette

June 3, 2014

Village of Lewiston board talks Center Street upkeep

By Timothy Chipp
Niagara Gazette

Niagara Gazette — LEWISTON — A conversation Monday evening could lead to some progress in the ongoing battle to beautify Center Street in the village.

Trustees of the village board and leaders of the business community sat down to talk about solutions for both short- and long-term problems the village is facing, including a lack of manpower to perform the cleanups and a lack of revenue to beautify the street and the adjacent walking areas.

"When you add these things up, it's really hurting the homeowners who have to pay the taxes," Mayor Terry Collesano said. "Everything adds up and it's not just a couple thousand dollars. It's thousands of dollars."

Most, though not all, of the problems that've arisen the past couple years are due to age, he said. Benches break, trash cans start to lose their paint, flowers never last and even the crosswalks through Center Street have begun to show signs of breaking down.

It's here the business community, with leadership coming from Lower Niagara River Region Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Jennifer Pauly and chamber board Chairman Richard Haight, may find a way to step up to the plate, in a way.

Haight approached the village trustees with a short-term solution sure to ruffle some feathers in the community. He said festivals, which draw the most visitors to the village and cause the most stress on the basic amenities like park benches and trash cans, need to begin paying a small amount of money to the village specifically for the upkeep of the main thoroughfare.

Considered a vendor fee, Haight said the idea hasn't even gone before his executive board, though if the chamber does move forward, the money would likely end up in a specified account restricted in its use. He said he envisions it being only $5 or $10 charge per vendor per festival and only for those put on by the chamber.

Executive board members are set to meet later this week, where Haight said he intends to pose the topic for discussion. If a fee moves beyond executive committee, the chamber as a whole meets next week and could determine a fee prior to the village board's next meeting, scheduled for 6 p.m. Monday, June 16, at the village office, 145 N. Fourth St., Lewiston.

While conversations of short-term solutions continued, Haight also addressed the village's need for a long-term solution. Planning, he said, needs to be done to counteract some of the issues plaguing the street, whether it be the road, the condition of the water and sewer lines below or the trees and the power lines running through them above.

There's also the longstanding parking problem village officials have dealt with for the better part of the last decade as the festivals and events, from Artpark concerts to the Lewiston Art Festival, grew in popularity and inadvertently led to creative problem solving for fitting the vehicles.

Haight said the village needs to consider everything, including spending the money to create a master plan.

"A master plan would be the first step," he said. "I don't have all the answers to the funding. This is just the conversation we all need to have."

Collesano and the three trustees present Monday agreed to strongly consider the financial investment when developing the budget for 2015-16, which won't be for another 10 months.

Contact reporter Timothy Chipp at 282-2311, ext. 2251 or follow on Twitter @timchipp.