Niagara Gazette

February 25, 2013

Meeting Monday will focus on Lewiston recreation center project

by Timothy Chipp
Niagara Gazette

Niagara Gazette — LEWISTON — Some questions were raised about the community's desire to build a $10 million recreation and senior center during Monday’s town board meeting.

Former Town Board member Paulette Glasgow addressed the town board and expressed both her own concerns and the thoughts of those who've contacted her since the town announced it was looking to build the multi-use center.

"I'm hearing from seniors and they're pissed," Glasgow said during a two-minute comment period the town allots residents. "You may be hearing one thing, but I'm hearing something completely different. If this building is in such high demand and we're hearing it's much needed in this area, why not give us the opportunity to comment and put it to the people for a referendum."

Glasgow said only two meetings have been held by town officials concerning the proposed center, including one which was an executive session in January between the board and the Lewiston-Porter School Board and administration.

The center is currently being negotiated with Lew-Port as the potential location, which would require the town purchasing 10 acres of land along Creek Road in front of the district's high school.

Glasgow asked the board to consider having more open meetings, like a public information session, about the project where people can come, ask questions and expect answers on the spot.

She may get her wish Monday, as the town has scheduled as a special public meeting combined with the Lew-Port board and the town's planning board, environmental commission and bureau of fire prevention to discuss the project's many intimate details.

The meeting, which will begin at 6 p.m. Monday in Town Hall, 1375 Ridge Road, Lewiston, will allow residents and interested parties to discuss the plans and how to implement what is being discussed.

Town Councilman Ernie Palmer said whatever happens in the center's future, it'll be done in the open with plenty of meetings like Monday to come.

"One thing that'll make this project successful is complete transparency," Palmer said. "We're not going to do a $10 million deal locked in a back room. At least I won't be a part of it."

Before any building can be constructed, the land must be purchased first. In negotiations, the Lew-Port School Board set a price of $5,000 per acre, a number the district's administrators feel comfortable keeping. The center is expected to require 10 acres of land, which, by law, the district is not permitted to gift the town.

Instead, the district is selling at a price it believes to be fair market value, Superintendent Chris Roser said.

"Even at the price we're asking for it, we feel it isn't an unfair price," he said. "We want the community to know we're doing our due diligence according to the law."