by Joshua Maloni
Village of Lewiston Mayor Terry Collesano called a special, informal meeting Monday with members of the Village Board of Trustees and the Planning Board to brainstorm ideas for the upper plateau off Portage Road.
"We have some 20-plus acres at the plateau," Collesano said. "The (Village) Board doesn't have any sound ideas (yet)."
The New York Power Authority gifted 42-plus acres of land to the Village of Lewiston in 2008. Collesano explained that almost half of that has since been allotted for environmental research/habitat land and some was designated for the Lewiston Dog Park. The remaining space is designated for recreational use, per NYPA's deeding.
"What is the village trying to accomplish?" Planning Board member Dave Maslen asked. "There's a lot of things you can do up there."
Deputy Mayor Bruce Sutherland suggested an indoor tennis or racquetball court.
"We're in great need of something to do in the wintertime," he said.
"There's nowhere, really, for kids to go," added Planning Board member Jamie Symmonds. "There's nothing to do."
She opined a small movie theater or teen center would be a valued addition.
"Something to keep them entertained," Symmonds said.
Collesano said "Family Movie Night" would take place this year at the Red Brick gymnasium.
"That could tie into what you're talking about," he said.
Planning Board member Loretta Frankovitch suggested something similar to the Carnegie Science Center in Pittsburgh, which she described as a cross between a teen Sportsplex (like in North Tonawanda) and café. She also recommended something akin to Brown's Berry Patch (near Rochester) and its giant trampoline.
"It's really just a fun thing," she said. "The kids stay on there all day."
Planning Board Chairman Dave Giusiana asked if the plateau was the best spot for a steel building.
"Where do we have usable land in the village?" Maslen replied.
Giusiana warned that adding a full-scale gym building would cost "phenomenal amounts of money." In addition to safety and sanitary requirements, he said such a structure would also stick out like a sore thumb on the plateau.
"It's going to be a wart on that landscape," he said. "That's a bad spot to put a building."
Sutherland and Maslen said a building could work, in theory, but when the deputy mayor suggested skateboarding or ice hockey, both boards turned their attention to an open-air concept.
Giusiana said small bathrooms with holding tanks would be more feasible than a full locker room with showers and related amenities. Those in attendance voiced the idea of small warming shelters alongside outside hockey/skating/lacrosse rinks.
Giusiana, Collesano and Planning Board member Ken Slaugenhoupt also asked about creating a cascading walkway or stairs for patrons to access the land. Right now, many dog walkers drive to the park, Giusiana said.
"These are good ideas," Collesano said. "This is what we're looking for."
He asked all board members to come up with some additional ideas. Giusiana and Slaugenhoupt offered to create a site plan so members could visualize what the land looks like and how and where improvements can be made.
"Let's lay out what we've got and see what we can do with it," Maslen said. "It's a great piece of property. We've got to do the right thing with it."
No funding options were discussed at the work session.
Regular Board Meeting
Following the plateau conversation, trustees reassembled for their monthly meeting and approved the following motions:
•A development plan for 315 Center St. Giusiana is working with professor Herbert Richardson on a two-story, 1,000 square-foot office/storage building.
•Richard Hastings' request to add a storage unit below The Silo Restaurant deck.
•John Kinney's petition for a portable Whirlpool Jet Boat Tours washroom trailer between the former "Bucket of Blood" restaurant and the Moose Lodge.
Trustees authorized the levy of real property taxes for the next fiscal year. The total warrant amount is $1,075,844.24, and the tax rate is $7.12 per $1,000 of assessed property valuation.
The board also awarded a special use permit for a small pet wash facility on the Portage House Motel grounds.