Lewiston Mayor Richard F. Soluri, who has held that post for the past 15 years, will not seek re-election in 2010.

That decision made some time ago has been known by many people close to the mayor.

“It’s time to move on,” Soluri, 77, said last week as he reflected briefly on his local government service that started in March 1994.

Like any truly dedicated office holder, he is cognizant that there’s always some unfinished business, goals that he’d like to accomplish.

One problem that has been exacerbated since he first took the oath of office is the lack of parking on Center Street. (Many business people privately concede it’s a nice problem to have.)

As it turns out, however, the problem is apparently not as severe as one night think at a cursory glance.

Soluri explained the village board has been assured by two local banks that they have no objection to restaurant patrons using their parking lots in the evening.

“We’re also planning on providing some diagonal parking on Center Street, between Third and Fourth streets,” the mayor said.

Some local business operators are upset that Richard Hastings, who owns the historic Frontier House (a former McDonald’s restaurant), fenced off the entire site including some 30 spaces in the adjacent parking lot.

“It wasn’t closed out of spite,” the mayor said, “I think he was really worried about vandalism and that maybe some would break in and torch the place.”

While Soluri would be the last to lay claim to the soaring success of the village — from the popular restaurants and taverns to the art shows, festivals throughout the summer and fall and the splendid waterfront — the fact remains significant progress occurred on his watch.

The village has become a major asset for the Niagara Falls tourist business, too. “It often amounts to another night for people staying at hotels there,” Soluri said, noting all the more reason to make certain the link between Lewiston and downtown Niagara Falls is preserved. In other words, banish the thought of tearing out the Robert Moses Parkway.

Soluri added that he has been fighting the group trying to remove the parkway for more than 11 years. Even in retirement, he plans to be a staunch supporter for keeping the scenic parkway in place.

He also plans to stay active with the committee for the Historic Lewiston Jazz Festival, a project close to his heart.


IN THE PARK: “The Moving Wall,” a half-size replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., that has been touring the U.S. for more than two decades, will be on display for four days in June at the Knox State Farm in East Aurora.

If it’s as popular as in other communities across the country, the event should draw thousands of visitors from throughout Western New York. More details will be released soon.

• A plan to restore the former Naval Reserve Barracks in Fort Niagara State Park, Youngstown, is still viable, according to state park officials. Mark Thomas, western district director of the state parks commission, said last week that “an interested party” has approached the parks agency with a proposal and discussions are under way.

• The parks commission has announced that Woodlawn Beach State Park in Hamburg — a splendid, one-mile long natural sand beach with a view of the Lake Erie shoreline and the Buffalo skyline — will be closed to swimming this season.

This time the ban is attributed to state’s fiscal crisis. For the past several years, swimming was often prohibited in the summer because the water was polluted after heavy rains.

Contact reporter Don Glynn at 282-2311, ext. 2246.