Niagara Gazette

July 1, 2013

Mayoral appointments change face of Village of Lewiston planning commission

By Timothy Chipp
Niagara Gazette

Niagara Gazette — Sensing some major development projects in the village's future, Mayor Terry Collesano decided to make some bold moves concerning Lewiston's planning commission board.

It all starts at the top, where David Giusiana will take a step back from his chairmanship and hand the reins off to Kenneth Slagenhoupt.

It's a move Giusiana said makes sense. After all, he's an architect by trade and has been forced to recuse himself from several planning board votes due to numerous conflicts of interest. The conflicts will still be there, but he won't be responsible for meetings or representing the board in the public.

"It gives me the freedom to practice my profession and still be involved on the board," he said. "I have a project coming before the board next week. I'll still have to recuse myself, but now Kenneth is in charge of the meetings. He will run them."

Giusiana's change was only the tip of the iceberg for Collesano's changes to the five-member board. The mayor has been critical of the board's performance in the past and took the opportunity to replace one of its longtime members.

Jamie Symmonds, who had spent the last four years on the commission, was replaced by former Village Trustee Ernest Krell, a former planning commission member himself.

It was a move which shocked Symmonds and left Giusiana "disappointed."

Collesano said he elected to bring Krell back because of the importance of the work coming up and left the door open for Symmonds to continue serving in other capacities.

"There are a lot of big jobs coming up," Collesano said, hinting at possible new development by Carl Paladino's Ellicott Development Co. and restoration work at the Frontier House as major projects in the works. "I felt we needed more expertise and skill on the board. We need more insight."

Making a project like the Frontier House restoration possible will require public support. To determine if enough exists, the village board and the Historical Association of Lewiston have been circulating petitions both online and at various village businesses.

Leandra Collesano, the mayor's daughter, was recently appointed to help lead the charge as a member of the newly formed Frontier House Restoration Committee. Vacant for almost 10 years, the structure, built in 1824, could be the recipient of grant money for rehabilitation if the village is able to secure the building, she said.

The online version of the petition, available at www.ipetitions.com/petition/frontier-house, has received almost 350 signatures since it went live Saturday, while other physical petitions have been available as well throughout the village.

"(It's) all very exciting stuff, but still a lot of ifs," she said via Facebook. "I'm feeling pretty good about the whole thing, though. Finally."

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