After holding a special meeting with members of the Lewiston Garden Club on Monday, the Village Board of Trustees appears to have found an answer to the question of what to do when festivals end on a Saturday evening and Center Street remains closed all night.
Mayor Terry Collesano suggested the Garden Club committee utilize the village's small bus for the 2011 GardenFest, and use it as a means of transporting patrons from off-street parking lots to Center Street's business district.
"We'll have shuttle service," Collesano said.
"This could be a good gesture on your part," he told Garden Club committee members Claudia Marasco, Barb Carter and Barbara Landree.
"If that would help, I think we'd be happy to do that, right?" Collesano asked the board.
Members agreed, and said the bus could be driven down the middle of Center Street, which would remain open to accommodate safety vehicles.
"We're going to have the festival; we just want to iron things out," Trustee Ernie Krell said.
The Garden Club representatives had agreed to meet with the board following comments made at the Oct. 18 municipal meeting. At that time, trustees and village Police Commissioner Al Soluri questioned closing Center Street for GardenFest, and wondered what impact the closing would have on restaurants and stores.
"Many of our festivals are on Center Street, and they deserve to be," Collesano said Monday. "But yours is a little unique, because I think you need more room to spread out."
He indicated Academy Park would be a logical place to hold the Saturday-Sunday event.
"We're doing this to showcase the village -- not just Academy Park," she said. In fact, she said the Garden Club's sole purpose in hosting the festival is to call attention to Lewiston.
"For the amount of money that we make, (it isn't) worth our while," Carter said. "We do it for the village."
Collesano conceded the point.
"All right, I'll take that," he said. "Everybody wants to use Center Street. ... But, we want to utilize that park."
Carter said Center Street is the safest spot to hold a festival.
"It's a real safety issue," she said of patrons navigating congested sidewalks, as they did in previous festival years. Now, "There is no traffic on the street, and they have room to walk."
Deputy Mayor Bruce Sutherland agreed Center Street is the ideal location for a festival, but said more effort is needed to ensure Lewiston businesses profit in the process.
"It is definitely better with the street closed. ... But, Saturday night was like a ghost town (last time)," he said.
"We're just trying to make it a happy balance," Collesano said.
The Garden Club members said overall sales generated via the festival's daytime hours more than make up for any nighttime losses.
Moreover, "Lewiston is not a place you go through; it's a place you go to," Landree said. "But there has to be a reason."
The Garden Club estimates GardenFest has netted $25,000 for Lewiston since the event's inception in 2005. The club, itself, has spent upwards of $7,000 this year on village beautification projects.
Sutherland called the Garden Club a "wonderful organization," and GardenFest a "wonderful festival."
"We're just trying to see if there's something else we can do," he said.
The Village Board said shuttle service could be a solution that benefits all parties.
"That would be a home run," Trustee Vic Eydt said.
Village Clerk Anne Welch said the board would need permission from the state Department of Transportation to run the trolley. Center Street is a DOT road, and can't be closed without the agency's permission.
The 2011 GardenFest is scheduled for June 25-26.