Niagara Gazette

July 16, 2013

Frontier House funding sought by village lawmakers in Lewiston

By Timothy Chipp
Niagara Gazette

State funding could help make the restoration of Lewiston's Frontier House a reality.

Village lawmakers approved a resolution Monday asking for funding from a state Department of Transportation grant to both purchase and restore the dilapidated Center Street building.

"The money will be used for the purchase price of the property, as well as paying for restoration efforts," Mayor Terry Collesano said. "It's for exterior renovation. Some interior renovations, but the majority of the money is for external work."

According to the village's resolution, the project to purchase and work on the building will seek "no less than 20 percent of the approved funding" from the DOT, though the request would need to be approved by the agency.

To file for the grant, the DOT required the village to complete an environmental assessment form and issue a negative declaration in its state environmental quality assessment review – SEQR – process. Monday's meeting included this action.

Moving the process forward, now, appears to be a process of snail-like proportions. A committee of 11 people, formed by the village board to advise on the project, has yet to meet and continue to circulate both an online and physical petition to determine support for the project.

Like the environmental assessment form, the petitions being collected are required for DOT funding, according to Leandra Collesano, president of the Historical Association of Lewiston and a member of the yet-to-convene committee.

She said once the village makes its determination, the DOT approves funding and work begins, the newly-created body will serve an advisory role providing the village with ideas for tenants should the it choose to proceed.

"We'll meet and advise the village board on what kind of not-for-profit tenants we think would be good fits for the building," she said. "We'll stay away from stagnant things, like museums. We want more interactive ideas."

Signatures are still being collected for the petitions and the online version is available at www.ipetitions.com and searching for "Frontier House."

In other news, the village board approved a request by Goldin Management Inc., a New York City-based property management firm, to renovate the former Fairchild Manor into 24 individual condominiums.

The condos, located at 765 Fairchild Place, will range in size from roughly 860 square-feet to 2,000 square-feet, will cost anywhere from $2.6 to $3.4 million to complete, according to architect David Giusiana.

Eighteen of the 24 units will be two-bedroom sized, with the remaining six one-bedroom, he said.

"The original intent of my client was to sell off the property to satisfy a money issue when they bought the property," Giusiana said. "Though there's still someone in Albany who needs to approve the pr they'll develop the 24 condos themselves (with the approval Monday)."