by Joshua Maloni
For the second time in a month, Riverside Motel owner Bruce Blakelock publicly took umbrage with the portable restroom trailer across the street from his Water Street business. At the end of May, he reached out to the Sentinel, claiming the unit was intrusive and looking for answers as to how such an entity could exist in the waterfront business district. On Monday, still dissatisfied with the answers provided by the Village of Lewiston, he chided trustees at their monthly board meeting for approving the public bathrooms.
Blakelock said his intent was to convey "disappointment with anybody that had anything to do with that trailer."
Whirlpool Jet Boat Tours is using the portable restroom unit to accommodate its patrons - namely those coming to town by bus. WJBT President John Kinney was granted permission to place the 8-feet by 36-feet trailer on his property at the Village Board meeting on May 17.
"With total disregard, they (WJBT) put that Porta-Potty trailer across from our residence," Blakelock said.
In the Sentinel article (May 29 issue), Village of Lewiston Mayor Bill Geiben said Kinney's Niagara Gorge Jet Boating Ltd. owns the property and, as such, the businessman is free to do such a thing.
"If it's his property, why was there even a vote?' Blakelock asked.
Trustees declined comment.
Blakelock said the issue of accommodating guests' bathroom needs should've been addressed before Kinney was permitted to operate his Water Street business.
"They made their problem my problem," Blakelock said, adding, "I'm thoroughly disgusted with anyone who had anything to do with this."
On Friday, Kinney told the Sentinel he was, in fact, mindful of his neighbors. He said Porta-Potty units could've easily been installed with no permission whatsoever. Instead, he said he rented a trailer that blocks smells and utilizes clean sinks. Kinney has partially shielded the trailer with a mesh screen, a fence and hanging plants.
Kinney e-mailed a more detailed response. His statement is included at the end of this article.
Food Collections Modified
Les Myers, president of Lewiston Volunteer Fire Co. No. 1, appeared before the board looking for resolution on Tuesday night food collections outside of Artpark's South Fourth Street entrance.
Last summer, and again last month, residents Claudia Marasco and Mamie Simonson were granted permission to collect non-perishable food and monetary donations at that location for the Heart, Love and Soul Food Pantry and Community Missions. Their team worked prior to the start of the weekly "Tuesday in the Park" concert series.
On eight of those nights last year, fire company volunteers were also out on Fourth Street, at the Center Street intersection, collecting funds for their ambulance service.
Marasco said the fire company's presence on June 15 severely curtailed her group's fundraising efforts.
Through a miscommunication, both groups were collecting last week outside of Artpark, though technically the fire company did not have board permission. Myers said he misunderstood a previous ruling by trustees, and that's why his team was where it was.
"We have to try to reach an agreement that is good (for everyone)," Geiben said.
So, at the board meeting on Monday, trustees decided it would be best if only one group, Team Marasco/Simonson, collected on Tuesday nights. The board gave the fire company permission to collect on Wednesday nights, ahead of the Coors Light concert series at Artpark, and prior to special performances at the Lewiston performing arts venue.
Kinney responds to Whirlpool Jet Boat Tour criticism
In an e-mail to the Sentinel, Whirlpool Jet Boat Tours President John Kinney stated the following in defense of his business.
"In December of 2002, Whirlpool Jet Boat Tours acquired the former Riverside Inn property from Frank and Mark Turgeon, who had owned the property since 1972. The foremost reason for the WJBT purchase of the Riverside Inn property was to facilitate our boat tour business. These boat tours start at 10 a.m. and are completed by 7 p.m. Clearly, these daylight-only hours would not adversely impact motel operations. Mr. Jon DiBernardo was selected to operate the food and bar programs, including entertainment. Prior to the WJBT acquisition, ‘Live Entertainment' included ‘Ladies Night' with free drinks for women and $5 all-you-can-drink (specials) for the guys. ‘Ladies Night' routinely ended with streets full of public rowdiness and the screech of tires racing up Center Street. Mr. DiBernardo replaced these activities with Jack Civiletto singing Frank Sinatra and bands who cater to listeners who appreciate jazz, blues and classic rock.
"To further mitigate impacts to the neighborhood, structural changes were made and acoustic absorbing materials were added to block sound from traveling from the property. During this period, many meetings and conversations occurred between myself and the owners of the Riverside Motel to assess the success of these upgrades and determine if other measures could produce even better results. My personal cell phone number was provided as a ‘hotline' in case the on-site management did not respond to concerns. Subjectively speaking, I would suggest the efforts to do ‘the right thing' for the owners of the Riverside Motel have been significant.
"The temporary washroom facilities installed on our property have been approved because they are a permitted use on commercially zoned property. The view from a private property is possessed by the person or organization who purchased the property and pays the taxes on said property."