By Terry Duffy
Youngstown residents heard on village plans to address the problem of idling tour buses at Thursday's Board of Trustees public hearing on parking. With Youngstown gearing up for summer and a full season ahead for Water Street business Niagara Jet Adventures, new local law 1-20-15 served as the village's response to residents' complaints of heightened tourist bus traffic, idling vehicles clogging streets and better control of visitors.
"We're trying to get up front on this," Youngstown Mayor Raleigh Reynolds told the crowd of roughly 20 gathered at the Red Brick Village Center.
Under the village plan, bus parking would not be permitted in a number of areas, including Main Street, Water Street, Lockport Street to Second Street, and Hinman Street.
"These are areas we're thinking about at this point. If we need to adjust it, we will," Reynolds said.
The village and NJA owner Chris Bohnenkamp have been discussing a plan that would see Niagara Jet Adventures situating its tour buses in a parking area it owns at the corner of Third and Church streets near Veterans Park. There, a shuttle service would be provided for visitors to village locations, leading to the Water Street NJA docks and back.
"Their plans are for the jet boat and tour people; they'll have guides," Reynolds said. He added the shuttle service, while primarily for tourists, would also be available to local residents in need of a ride along its route. "They'll be able to get on at Water Street or a different location if they want."
Reynolds said the village has a good relationship with Bohnenkamp and the company wants to be a good neighbor.
"We've had open communication on this," he said, adding he and Bohnenkamp fully understand the growing pains of a new tourist offering and are working toward improvements. "He wants to be part of this community and is planning on moving his family to the village from Idaho this year."
Reynolds said NJA would be providing two 20-passenger shuttles with 20-minute interval pickups and drop-offs of tourists, and its staffers would be assisting both up and below the hill, keeping an eye on buses and maintaining traffic flow. Parking fines for buses would be similar to those for illegal parking of boat trailers in the village outside of designated areas.
Other resident issues, such as NJA boat noise and start-up times, also were heard from residents. Reynolds said these matters are likewise being addressed by the village and NJA, and those with complaints are urged to contact him directly.
Residents appeared comfortable with the plans. And Youngstown resident Gary Beatty, speaking on behalf of NJA, pledged the company's cooperation. He said NJA is fully aware of residents' concerns and supports the bus parking ordinance and village response.
"We want the village to be a part of this. We're working in the best interest; we're all one team here," he said.
The matter concluded soon after and village trustees went on to unanimously approve the new law later in the session. It takes effect immediately.
In other board news:
•Reynolds told visitors the community, thus far, has raised $7,956 in response to the vandalism of Veterans Memorial at Veterans Park. Monument repairs are underway in Buffalo.
Noting a recent wristband sales fundraiser that saw $2,800 contributed by Lew-Port students (with $2,500 matched by the Lewiston Kiwanis Club), Reynolds said, "That says a lot about our students, standing up for what is right."
He said the amount raised exceeds the damage total and a separate account would be maintained by the village for other improvements, such as lighting or cameras at the memorial. Reynolds said the village hopes to have the monument back on site by Veterans Day.
•Trustee Tim Adamson said the village applied for a 50-percent matching grant to acquire new, 96-gallon wheeled recycling containers for residents. The village will discuss new pick-up schedules with Modern.
He said the village aims to have the new totes by year's end.
•Reynolds announced the village will hold a public hearing to discuss the 2015 budget at its next meeting, 7 p.m. Thursday, April 9, at the Red Brick.
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