Trustees have had enough.
An increase in juvenile delinquency, as seen in the police blotters run inside this paper each week, coupled with more frequent community reports of vandalism has led the Village of Lewiston to reinstate a curfew for minors. Section 12-44 of the municipal codebook states no person under the age of 16 years shall be or remain in or upon any of the streets, alleys or public places of the village at night after 9 p.m. (Nov. 1 through May 1), unless accompanied by a parent or guardian.
"We have a law on the books that we haven't enforced," Mayor Terry Collesano said during Monday's Village Board work session. Earlier, he issued a directive to Lewiston Police Chief Chris Salada. "I said to the chief today that I want this strictly enforced. (This situation is) beyond ridiculous."
Collesano then directed a pointed message to the media in the room. He said to tell parents that if their children are picked up after 9 p.m. (10 p.m. in the summer), "We will go to the full extent of the law."
The penalty for such an offense is a fine not to exceed $250 per day.
The preface for Collesano's remarks, and what seemed to be the proverbial straw that broke the camel's back, was a discussion of the severely damaged "Eternal Flame" inside the veterans memorial at Academy Park.
At 1:42 a.m. on Monday, patrol officer Michael Haynes was alerted to a fire engulfing the tribute marker, which was just outside of the monument section of the park.
"The fire was so intense," Collesano said, "(that) it actually melted the plastic" shield that protects the flame from weather elements. He said the fire was several feet off the ground when Haynes arrived at the scene.
"We don't know what it was; we don't know the cause," Collesano said. He noted the burn marks seem to indicate some sort of metal- or chemical-based fire.
Whatever the source, he said replacing the flame and cleaning the debris would cost a "considerable" amount of money.
Though police and fire officials are still investigating, trustees ascribed the post-Halloween incident to minors.
In his report, Haynes wrote the fire didn't look suspicious. Moreover, Salada said leaves might have sparked the fire.
But just the idea that juveniles may have been behind the incident was enough to draw the ire of the board, and of village Police Commissioner Al Soluri, who said, "let's start making examples of people. ... That's the only deterrent that you'll have."
Soluri said he's spoken with Salada about increasing the visibility of the police within the village. The Village Board is also preparing to purchase and install additional security cameras.
The curfew is a first step.
"If we have laws on the books, they've got to be followed," Trustee Terri Mudd said.
Collesano said he plans to speak with Town of Lewiston Supervisor Steve Reiter about the police routes.
"We have some problems," Collesano said.
The village and town are also in the process of reviewing police manpower, costs and overtime.
Throughout the summer, village residents claimed minors were vandalizing Lewiston Landing. The Lewiston Courtyard was vandalized in September, though security footage seems to suggest the alleged perpetrator is a male in his mid- to upper-20s.
Salada said those with information on any of the above incidences can call the Lewiston Police Department at 754-8477, ext. 4.
After meeting last week with members of the GardenFest committee, trustees proposed installing a shuttle system to transport patrons around the village during festival season. They sought a way to maximize profits for Center Street businesses affected by the main village road's closure.
Village Clerk Anne Welch informed trustees this week that the state Department of Transportation would allow the board to set up a trolley system. However, the DOT warned such action would increase the village's liability should an accident occur.
Collesano said trustees would move forward with a shuttle, but minimize the route. Instead of transporting pedestrians down the middle of a closed Center Street, the bus will take them from off-street parking lots to the intersections of Fourth and Center, and Fifth and Center.
"We'll try that," Collesano said.
The board will also look into opening the restaurant parking lots off Niagara Street.
"We'll see if we can work something out," Collesano said.