by Joshua Maloni
Village of Lewiston Mayor Bill Geiben called it genius.
But in the end, he said it was also complicated.
On Thursday, the Board of Trustees backed away from a Lewiston Lions Club proposal to collect charitable contributions inside of Artpark during the "Tuesday in the Park" concert series. Instead, trustees approved a plan wherein volunteers representing Heart, Love and Soul and Community Missions can solicit patrons outside of the performing arts venue's South Fourth Street entrance.
"Hopefully this will be a success," Geiben said.
"This is fair and balanced," Trustee Terry Collesano said.
Conflict arose recently between the Lions Club - which sought to generate food and funds for various service organizations - and village residents Claudia Marasco and Mamie Simonson, who asked permission to gather items solely for the two aforementioned groups. Representatives for the former said their plan could only happen if the latter's proposal was denied.
On May 17, the Village Board asked that any and all food collection requests be submitted in writing for the May 27 meeting.
At Thursday's meeting, Trustee Ron Craft, who is a member of the Lions Club, informed his peers that the Lewiston organization would take a pass on 2010.
"We're going to back off this year," he said.
Geiben was intrigued by the Lions Club's efforts, but said the group's plan needed work.
"I was so excited that this year there was an opportunity to collect (inside) Artpark," Geiben said, citing 35 years of being told such an option didn't exist. "Lo and behold, this year that door opened a crack. I thought, ‘Wow, what an opportunity to be able to collect on site - both for the need that Artpark has for funding, and the need that the community service groups had.'
"The road to hell is paved by good intentions. This got so confusing, so befoogled, that peoples' feelings got hurt. Everybody was trying to do the same thing: serve the needy and help out. But, it got complicated; got confusing. So, we're backing up and going with what worked last year."
Volunteers amassed upwards of $10,000 and almost a half-ton of food for the Niagara Falls-based Community Missions and Heart & Soul in 2009.
This summer, team captains will be assigned weekly to each group in order to maintain order and keep volunteers from obstructing people entering Artpark.
Bi-National Peace Garden
Marasco, representing the Lewiston Garden Club, informed trustees of her organization's intent to purchase a $2-$3,000 fountain (shown above, right) for the Bi-National Peace Garden located between the Little Yellow Chocolate House on Center Street and the Lewiston Council on the Arts on Ridge Street. The fountain, which will have water lilies emerging from its base, is to be filled with river rock and fresh ivy, and have its own pump.
"We wanted something to commemorate the peace garden itself," Marasco said.
The Garden Club will oversee the installation of the structure, which is 6-1/2 feet tall and 5 feet wide. Marasco said it would be up and ready ahead of the GardenFest, which is June 26-27 in the village.
The Bi-National Commission will visit Lewiston on Saturday, July 3, to formally open the peace garden. That event begins at 1 p.m.
"I think it's a great idea," Geiben said.
"That's a beautiful park. Let's enhance it a little bit more," he added. "We have an opportunity (thanks to) the generosity of the Garden Club to pay for the artwork and the fountain. It is certainly going to make us, again, a destination."
The board is pursuing a surveillance camera to monitor the courtyard.
Geiben said some residents on the village's south side experienced dirty water and a drop in water pressure earlier this week as a result of Lewiston No. 1 Volunteer Fire Co. conducting a regular flush of hydrants."In the future, we hope to be able to alert the public before the flushing occurs," he said.