Featured News - Current News - Archived News - News Categories

Academy Park pavilion renderings courtesy of Jim Fittante/Fittante Architecture.
Academy Park pavilion renderings courtesy of Jim Fittante/Fittante Architecture.

Academy Park partners weigh in on pavilion proposal

by jmaloni
Fri, Nov 10th 2023 11:00 am

By Joshua Maloni

GM/Managing Editor

Following the news that the Village of Lewiston intends to have a pavilion built in Academy Park – and the Town of Lewiston’s affirmative vote to provide Greenway funding for the project – park partners have weighed in on the merits of adding such a structure to the site.

Veterans of Foreign Wars Downriver Post 7487 took umbrage with a statement suggesting the VFW has endorsed the proposed project. Former Cmdr. Bill Justyk said the VFW had not seen the pavilion rendering, nor endorsed the proposal, prior to it being presented to Lewiston elected leaders.

He noted VFW isn’t necessarily opposed to the idea, however, nor does it have an opinion with regard to the structure serving as the location of the annual Memorial Day luncheon. A stand-alone village committee now oversees the post-ceremony meal.

Academy Park’s two biggest “tenants” are the Kiwanis Club of Lewiston, which utilizes the site for upward of two weeks each September for the Niagara County Peach Festival; and the Lewiston Artisan Farmers Market, which operates along the Portage Road side of the park each Saturday from late spring until early fall.

Kiwanis Club of Lewiston Past President Marty Pauly said, “Kiwanis does support a proposal for a pavilion as long as it's in the same location as our peach tent and roughly the same dimensions.”

Speaking on behalf of the Lewiston Artisan Farmers Market, Rachel Jolbert said that, like the VFW, neither she nor her vendors had the seen the pavilion plan.

“As the market manager, my responsibility is to provide a safe and enjoyable space for local producers, growers and makers to sell their products to our community,” Jolbert said. “The Portage Road side of Academy Park sets a beautiful, tree-covered space for our market that is unlike any others in our area.

“I understand that the pavilion is not being built for us, but rather for the community as a whole.

“The market has been publicly named as an organization who is assumed will rent the pavilion. The vendors who participate in the market are part of this community, so I feel like their voices should be heard for representation.”

Vendor opinions are mixed.

Aurora Schul Schunk, owner of Schul Farmstead in Cambria, said she opposes the pavilion, as presented, as “it appears in the photo that it would be where some trees are now in the park. The park does not have that many trees, only around the perimeter, so to think that this pavilion, which is a ‘green’-way project, would be cutting down trees either for the permanent structure or to eliminate barriers during constructions, frankly goes against the Greenway's purpose, which, according to the website, is to ‘provide easy access to the natural environment.’ ”

Brittney Knowles, of Lewiston’s Pressing Matter cold-pressed juices, said, “I am in favor of the pavilion. For the past two years, I have been a full-time vendor at the Lewiston Artisan Farmers Market. Every Saturday morning of the market season I spend at Academy Park with my fellow vendors, who show up rain or shine, and when I say rain I mean rain. I have sat under my tent in a literal puddle of standing water serving the community while rain comes in sideways. Even though these days are few and far between, the ones with bad weather are quite burned in my memory.

“A pavilion would be nice to have to keep us vendors out of the weather and protected, not worrying if the next gust of wind is going to blow our tents away.

“Another reason I think a pavilion would be good for our market is the accessibility. The concrete floor would be great for people needing less-variable terrain to get around, making these individuals more comfortable coming to our market.

“I also feel it would bring all the vendors closer together, making it easier for people to walk the market and see all the vendors.

“I do know now that a lot of people are opposed to the pavilion, one big reason being the historic charm of Lewiston being compromised. I am not from Lewiston and have only lived here three years, but I feel it would not harm the historic charm, but would bring the community together.

“Lewiston, however historic, also has to have modern amenities to continue bringing new people in.”

Jess Nyland of Niagara Falls-based Lend a Leaf Tea Co. said, “I think a structure for the farmer's market is a great idea and find it so unfortunate that the voices of those at our local farmers market have not yet been sought out in this matter.

“I have been part of many other area farmers markets throughout WNY that have pavilions such as North Tonawanda Farmers Market and Niagara Falls Farmers Market and others. A large pavilion is an amazing resource that is great for farmers, vendors and shoppers alike. It allows vendors to not have to put up a tent every week, and shoppers to shop comfortably during rainy or windy weather.

“My main concerns with the pavilion are structural or practical in nature, and I'm sure they would have been addressed had local officials reached out to anyone at the Lewiston Farmers Market.” 

Sonora Miller of Lewiston apiary Beegotten Farm said, “Speaking as a market vendor who has been here since the first farmers market six years ago, I am firmly against a pavilion in Academy Park. Our farmers market stands out amongst other area markets because it's not on concrete and not restricted to a pavilion!”

She added, “If the village is truly looking to invest in the farmers market, please build accessible bathrooms to replace the single porta-potty available on site. Or add some dirt down the center path to reduce puddles and mud during rainy weekends. Or permanently install the parking signs, which were never properly put in the ground and lean precariously in all directions.

“But don't waste money on a building that doesn't take into account the needs of the vendors, the shoppers, or the living trees in the park!”

Academy Park pavilion renderings courtesy of Jim Fittante/Fittante Architecture.


DiMino Lewiston Tops proprietor Anthony DiMino commissioned pavilion renderings and has pledged to provide an additional monetary amount for the project. He said, “I am in favor of some sort of building next to the bandshell.”

He was aware of previous ideas for an Academy Park pavilion proposal that didn’t come to fruition when he stepped forward.

DiMino explained, “It’s been discussed on social media as a negative to the village when, if people would actually realize and think about it, it is a great thing to have.”

He acknowledged a pavilion would benefit Tops by bringing more people to the village and to the park, specifically, but also “it’s multiuse. You could use it for the Peach (Festival) tent. You could use it for Wine Fest. You could use it for the philharmonic. You could use it for ‘Summer of ’69.’ You could use it for the farmers market. You could use it for a skating rink (warming area).”

He added, “It’s good for the community. If it wasn’t good for the community, I would be against it.”

The pavilion’s potential size – 6,600 square feet – has given some residents pause. DiMino said, “No one ever said it couldn’t be amended” or made smaller.

DiMino financed the Academy Park bandshell named for his late father, Alphonso. He also underwrote the cost of moving the structure to its current corner spot, and has established a yearly concert on the bandshell stage with the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra.

Village of Lewiston Mayor Anne Welch said she expects the pavilion to cost upward of $350,000. To date, she said the municipality has received $120,000 in donations. The Town of Lewiston, at its Oct. 23 session, voted to provide $190,000.

The proposal is expected to be presented to the village’s Historic Preservation and Planning boards for refinement. No date has been set as of now.

Welch said she’s hopeful the pavilion could be built and ready for use by Memorial Day 2024.

Academy Park pavilion renderings courtesy of Jim Fittante/Fittante Architecture.

Hometown News

View All News