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Village of Lewiston: New Artpark exit strategies discussed

by jmaloni

Municipality financially sound, audit reports

Sat, Jan 8th 2011 01:00 am

by Joshua Maloni

At Monday's Village of Lewiston Board work session, Police Commissioner Al Soluri said he and Mayor Terry Collesano recently met with representatives from the New York State Parks Police, Lewiston Police Department and Artpark & Co. administration. Soluri indicated all parties have a vested interest in more efficiently moving traffic out of Artpark following the "Tuesday in the Park" summer concert series.

With upward of 10,000-12,000 patrons attending the show each week (sometimes twice that number), lines of traffic typically back up along Artpark's South Fourth Street and Portage Road exits for between 45-60 minutes after each performance. In extreme cases, the wait can stretch to two hours.

"We're trying to get the flow (moving) more smoothly," Soluri said.

To wit, he proposed the following traffic changes:

•North Fourth Street would become a one-way street following the "Tuesday in the Park" concerts. Vehicles exiting in the right lane would turn onto Center Street and out of the village, while cars in the left lane would head onto River Road en route to Pletcher Road and Route 18F.

•Pending approval by the state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, patrons exiting Artpark's upper plateau (Portage Road) would have direct access to the Robert Moses Parkway via a new Seneca Street turnoff (Tuesday concert nights only).

"If we can cut this (wait) down in half, we've accomplished something," Soluri said.

He also recommended the following measures to ensure orderly traffic patterns.

•No parking on either side of Fourth Street, moving north to south between Oneida and Tuscarora streets. Roadway shoulders would be left open for emergency personnel vehicles.

•No parking on the east side of all streets running north and south, nor on the south side of streets running east and west.

However, parking will remain open on Center Street.

Finally, Soluri advised the Village Board to outlaw public parking on private property (as in self-made pay lots). These setups, he said, put the village in harm's way should an accident occur.

Moreover, Soluri said such parking lots are often a noise nuisance for neighbors.

"We're trying to keep the disturbances down to a minimum," he said.

To enforce each of his suggestions, Soluri recommends allotting one police car for the purpose of ticketing offenders.

"We've been talking about this for six years, and we haven't done a thing," he said.

"If we're going to do this, we've got to do it right," Soluri added.

Deputy Mayor Bruce Sutherland agreed.

"If we don't enforce it, it's no good," he said.

The next step, trustees said, is having Village of Lewiston Attorney Edward Jesella draw up a local ordinance. That measure would be presented to residents via a public hearing. The board could then approve the new law(s).

"The way I look at it, it's a start," Collesano said. "At least we're starting to look at something.

"If we get the traffic out that much faster, there will be that less problems."

Soluri concurred.

"If we can conquer this, Artpark will not be the problem it is for a lot of residents," he said. 

Village On Track Financially

In the Village of Lewiston, a penny saved is a penny earned.

Brown & Company financial auditor Pat Brown said "years of prudent, conservative budgeting" has resulted in the municipality's current status: assets exceeding liabilities by $1.2 million, which is $500,000 more than a year ago.

He met Monday with the Village Board to offer an overview of nearly 60 pages of financial statements and supplementary information. 

For the fiscal year ended May 31, 2010, the Brown & Co. audit revealed revenues exceeding budget by $33,334. The village's general fund increased by $106,662, as expenditures were under budget by $101,847 - though public safety ($19,069) and legal ($24,906) costs were up.  The end result is an undesignated fund balance of $274,194, which Brown said represents an "ideal" 9.35 percent of the 2011 estimated appropriations.

The village has $920,740 of long-term debt. Of that, $115,869 is payable within the next year.

Odds and Ends

•The Village Board agreed to extend the Little Yellow Chocolate House's occupancy in the historic Little Yellow House on Center Street until the end of the month, or until a new renter is found. The business ceased operations during the Christmas holiday, but owners John and Cathy Boas are still in the process of moving equipment and furniture out of the store.

•Roughly 150 people attended the village's first New Year's Eve ball drop at Academy Park.

"We feel it was a successful event," Collesano said, adding he hopes more events (and a bigger crane) could be tied in with the next year-end countdown.

•Sutherland asked the board to consider tackling heavier issues (e.g. The Frontier House, street closings, festival fees, public safety matters) at future work sessions. Trustees agreed, and said one or two large topics could reasonably be discussed each month.

•The Village Board will hold its regular meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 18, at 6 p.m. There is no session on Monday, Jan. 17, as it's Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

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