By Joshua Maloni
Developers of two new, prominent Lewiston projects received good news Monday from the Village Board.
Commenting on conceptual plans from Claudia Marasco, Linda Radford and Carol Calato to renovate the church/theater at 409 Plain St., Trustee Vic Eydt said, "I think you've got three women who are really going to put their heart and soul into this, and keep a historic building from falling into ruin."
Last week, Marasco revealed the group's plan to convert the former St. Peter R.C. Church-turned-Artpark & Company and Niagara University theater room into a venue for special events and small jazz or cabaret-style musical gatherings.
"It's a beautiful building," Deputy Mayor Bruce Sutherland said. "They're not going to change anything on the outside of it."
The partners requested a special use permit. The board scheduled a public hearing for 6 p.m. Monday, Dec. 7, which is required as part of the application process.
Meanwhile, trustees gave Russ Conrad the go-ahead to convert the former Dennis Brochey's Automotive building into a restaurant. The board approved a request to expand the structure's west and north sides to accommodate a larger kitchen and bigger bathrooms at 800 Center St.
Harvest Festival Expanding
The Niagara River Region Chamber of Commerce was given permission to close Center Street (Fourth to Seventh streets, and between the banks on Fifth Street) Sept. 24-25, 2016, for the annual Harvest Festival.
"It has grown to be a larger festival than the Garden Festival. It's been 32 years in the making," Chamber of Commerce President Jennifer Pauly said. "This is a safety issue. We have had tremendous numbers in attendance. We have people crossing the street in the middle of the street at all times. The sidewalks are now too busy to pass through safely, and it's just we've outgrown the way the festival is set up right now.
"We have 110 vendors; they're stretched all the way down the street. It's been a longstanding festival. We also coordinate with the (New York Power Authority) Wildlife Festival. So, more people are now coming to both."
Trustee Dan Gibson said, "I think it's a great idea."
"I don't have a problem with it," Trustee Nick Conde said. "It's a safety issue."
Pauly noted, "We'd like to also carry on some evening entertainment to prolong people there on the street - and to have a reason for people to stay there longer. It will help the restaurants."
She added, "A lot of the festivals that are held during the day, when they're closed, you can shoot a cannon down the street."
This motion passed by a 3-1 measure. Eydt voted "no," citing an abundance of festivals already requiring Center Street's closure. Mayor Terry Collesano was absent.
News and Notes
•Trustees approved a facility request from VFW Post 7487 to host the traditional Memorial Day Parade on May 30, 2016. The parade procession will begin at 11 a.m. from the Red Brick Municipal Building. It will stretch down to the eternal flame inside Academy Park. Following a brief remembrance ceremony, a community luncheon is set to take place at the Lewiston No. 1 Volunteer Fire Co. firehall on North Sixth Street.
The parade did not take place this year, as funding for the luncheon wasn't available.
•The board approved the temporary removal of two Seventh Street parking spaces members deemed hazardous to pedestrian crossings. One spot is located in front of 700 Center St. The second is kitty-corner, right in front of Coldwell Banker Talarico Real Estate.
A "No Parking" sign and accompanying barricade will be installed at both spots.
•Sutherland presided over the board meeting as Collesano was working with the New York Conference of Mayors on its 2016 legislative committee program.
"They invited him; kind of an honor for Lewiston, for him to be selected," Sutherland said. "He's in Albany right now. ... Putting his two cents in for all of us."