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Residents, officials debate new parking proposal

by jmaloni
Sat, Apr 9th 2011 12:00 am
A new public parking lot has opened behind Coppins and across the street from St. Peter's R.C. Church in the Village of Lewiston.
A new public parking lot has opened behind Coppins and across the street from St. Peter's R.C. Church in the Village of Lewiston.
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by Joshua Maloni

At Monday's Village of Lewiston work session, trustees continued to analyze parking patterns and traffic flow associated with Artpark's "Tuesday in the Park" concert series. A motion was presented to limit parking on South Fourth Street - just outside of the performing arts venue's main entrance - and on ancillary streets. It would also prohibit pocket pay lots on private property.

"Artpark requires this parking ordinance to alleviate the problems caused by the excessive amount of traffic (associated with 'Tuesday in the Park')" Village of Lewiston Police Commissioner Al Soluri said.

The motion calls for a ban on public parking on residential property the day of or during Artpark Tuesday night concerts. It also excludes parking on the east and west sides of South Fourth Street between Tuscarora and Oneida streets, on the east side of streets running north and south in the village, and on the south side of streets running east and west.

"(Artpark patrons) don't want to park (in Artpark's lots) because it takes too long," Soluri said, noting traffic jams of up to two-and-a-half hours following some of the venue's larger free concerts. "We're taking steps to make it faster."

The amendment to the local motor vehicle and traffic law also prohibits residents from parking cars and bikes on their property for a fee. Village Attorney Ed Jesella called such actions a growing problem that needs to be curtailed.

"It's the right thing to do for the community," he said.

Fourth Street resident John Tourbin, who has parked motorcycles on his property on Artpark Tuesdays in recent years, said, "All my bike money goes to charity. I think you're completely wrong on this issue."

"I'm willing to do anything possible to keep it open," he said. "These are good people. ...They spend a lot of money in the village. If you kick these people out, you'll have no one left eating at the restaurants."

Soluri said, "It's just too much when we're trying to clear out Artpark."

Fourth Street resident and former Village of Lewiston Trustee Ron Craft asked how the board would differentiate between pay parking and allowing friends and family to park on residential property.

"Where do you draw the line?" he asked.

Jesella said all such residential parking should be banned.

Craft also wondered why Artpark was being singled out.

"Why aren't we having ordinances for festivals?" he asked. "I don't hear anything about these festivals."

Soluri said Artpark was a test case.

"This is a trial," he indicated. "If it works, we'll see about it for the other festivals."

Craft said the Lewiston Police Department has "more important things to do" than drive around and ticket vehicles parked on private property.

Rick Haight, speaking on behalf of the Niagara River Region Chamber of Commerce Lewiston Advisory Committee, called some of the language in the motion "vague" and "not clearly defined."

Moreover, Haight questioned how visitors would learn about the revised parking rules. Soluri said Artpark would promote the ordinances within its marketing materials.

Trustees opted to table the motion as they sought time to digest the public comments.

Following the meeting, Theresa Tourbin, John's wife, said, "I don't see how they could tell us what to do with our own yard."

The Village Board did pass a motion that would ban public parking in private lots, when said parking is prohibited by the property owner.

This action stemmed from incidents involving Lewiston Family Dental, a Center Street business situated next door to the Lewiston Village Pub. Dr. Jason Marshall said people congregate outside of his office long past hours of operation. Subsequently, signs have been stolen and other acts of vandalism have been reported.

Marshall said he brought this matter to the board in an effort "to protect my property."

Ken Scibetta, who operates the pub, said he and Marshall get along just fine and have tried to figure out a way to prevent rabblerousing.

"I don't want to see any damage to our neighbors," Scibetta said.

Haight said the chamber of commerce has concerns about congested streets during festival weekends, and that other parking lots (i.e. Tops and CVS) could close to the public on those days as a result of the newly enacted law.

"Consider the far-reaching impacts of that," he said.

•In other auto news, the Village Board approved a motion to purchase a 2012 Mack MRU613 garbage truck with a 27-yard Heil F5000 Packer for the Department of Public Works. Superintendent Bryan Meigs said the current garbage truck is 14 years old and well past its usability.

"Long overdue," he said of the board's decision.

The village selected Buffalo Truck Center's bid of $185,954. Monies will come from the village's 2011-12 budget.

"That's a hard bullet to bite," Mayor Terry Collesano said.

Meigs expects to have the garbage truck by the end of the summer.

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