by Joshua Maloni
The Village of Lewiston Board of Trustees approved a motion Monday allowing Mayor Terry Collesano to sign a lease with the Niagara River Region Chamber of Commerce to relocate the tourism and marketing agency into the Lewiston Welcome Center in Academy Park. The lease takes effect on Jan. 1, 2013, and runs until Dec. 31, 2017.
The Chamber of Commerce will not be charged rent, but will pay heating, electric and technology costs. The Village of Lewiston will pick up the building's water and sewer fees.
Since the new visitor center was moved into the park in 2009, trustees have not charged or collected rent on the building, which was once "The Little Blue House," and sat next to the A-Plus Mini-Mart. For more than a year, volunteers have worked inside the building, answering guests' questions and distributing tourism-related materials.
In the Village Board's agreement with the Chamber of Commerce, trustees agreed to waive a $1,600 monthly rental fee. This number was derived from information presented by the chamber regarding its current rental agreement with Town of Lewiston Justice Thomas Sheeran. The Chamber of Commerce has worked out of Sheeran's property, at 100 N. Third St., since 2007 and, according to chamber leadership, now pays Sheeran $1,500 per month, or $18,000 per year.
Sheeran said that number is inaccurate, and that the rent is approximately $10,800 per year. Moreover, Sheeran reminded the Village Board that the Chamber of Commerce sublets the upstairs to Caesars Entertainment at a cost of about $500 per month.
Nonetheless, the Village Board approved the motion and also agreed to provide the Chamber of Commerce with $4,000 annually to help fund programs and services (though in 2013 about one-third of that contribution will go into refurbishing the welcome center's top floor).