Center Street to close to accommodate anticipated large-scale event in Lewiston
By Joshua Maloni
Lewiston residents and tourists will have a little more elbow room to watch the eclipse next spring, now that the Village Board has agreed to close Center Street for this once-in-a-generation spectacle.
Lee Simonson, representing a local group of volunteers, asked for accommodations for “The Eclipse: A Step Back in Time,” set for Monday, April 8, 2024. His proposed watch party would take place on Center Street (from Fifth to Fourth streets), and be centered on the period of eclipse totality (3:18:24 to 3:21:41 p.m.) and the partial eclipse (2:04 to 4:32 p.m.).
“This is going to be a big deal,” he said. “We’re going to have thousands of people coming from all over the world – not just to Lewiston, but I know NASA is coming to Niagara Falls. Buffalo is dead-center. The eclipse starts in Texas and comes up; the trail is at about 2,200 mph.
“We’re here for your support. We’d like to transform Center Street.”
Trustees asked logistical questions, but didn’t object to the idea.
Center Street will be closed from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Details of the eclipse event will be shared on the next “Lewiston History Mysteries” placemat at Apple Granny Restaurant. Part of that text reads, “Event planners are working to provide Lewiston residents and visitors a unique experience, without upstaging nature’s amazing show. …
“Street lighting will be turned off, and businesses will be encouraged to turn off interior and exterior lighting during ‘totality.’ The only light will be from candles.
“19th Century demonstrations will turn Center Street into an ‘living history’ Frontier Village, including metal forging, pottery making, fur trappers, Native Americans, music and dancers, candle making, cooking, military reenactors, and many other displays.
“Church bells will be ringing before and after totality.”
As the special moment draws near, Simonson said he hopes street lights will be turned off: “We don’t want to upstage nature here. We want it quiet; we it dark during totality.
“But up to that point in time” the other programming would be featured.
Simonson was told the Upward Niagara Chamber of Commerce conducted an informal survey as to whether or not the Center Street merchants want the street closed, and the answer was “no.” However, he said that was the same response received prior to closing the roadway a decade ago for the Historical Association of Lewiston’s “Flames Through Lewiston” reenactment, and what resulted was record patronage.
Mayor Anne Welch said, “If we’re going to do something, I would like the businesses to be there and be involved.”
“I’m not opposed to that; I think that’s a great idea,” Trustee Dan Gibson said.
Simonson’s group was asked to develop a safety/evacuation plan and coordinate with the Lewiston Police Department and Department of Public Works.
LPD Chief Frank Previte and DPW Superintendent Larry Wills said they would expect a crowd rivaling that of 2010s-era Artpark & Company concerts. Previte joked it could be anywhere from 100 to 100,000 people in attendance at the Lewiston eclipse event. He offered to provide Simonson with a festival planning template.
Welch suggested the eventual parking/no-parking/detour plan mirror the one used for the annual Northwest Lewiston Jazz Festival, which typically draws in excess of 30,000 people.
The Village of Lewiston will not be providing eclipse glasses, but said a local business might sponsor an equipment purchase and distribution.
Following the meeting, Simonson noted the Historical Association of Lewiston is serving as the “lead agency” for this event, “organizing a group of volunteers from various organizations in the community. HAL will be accepting donations for the event and disbursing expenses.”
“The Eclipse: A Step Back in Time” is sponsored, in part, by Rocco and Carla DelGrosso of Krislyn Company.
Lewiston Eclipse Times
Monday, April 8, 2024
Pictured is a rendering of the fencing going up along the north side of the building at 125 S. First St., as created by Giusiana Architects.
Kinney Granted Permission for Fencing
Also at Monday’s Village Board meeting, trustees granted Whirlpool Jet Boat Tours President John Kinney permission to partially enclose portions of his property at 65 Center St., 125 S. First St., and at the corner of Center and Water streets.
Architect David Giusiana, speaking on behalf of Kinney, called the 12-inch concrete barrier “almost like a parking bumper that the fence itself would be mounted to.”
He said the 34-inch top portion is “primarily a wrought-iron metal fence with a concrete base. It’s no higher than the 4 feet that’s allowed by code.”
Kinney sought these fences to further protect his properties.
Trustees Tina Coppins and Dan Gibson voted “No” on the first and third location.
Historic Law Language Updated
Trustees approved a motion to adopt local law No. 17-2023, amending article IV (historic preservation) of the village code. They thanked Historic Preservation Commission Chairwoman Loretta Frankovitch and her board for adding clarification to definitions regarding the HPC and the historic preservation process.
Lewiston Landing Update
Engineer Mike Marino said bids received for the next phase of the Lewiston Landing renovation project came in higher than the available funding, and so the project will be scaled back and resubmitted.
The next bid application will include a new northside staircase and perhaps a new grinder – but probably not a new bathroom – for the fish-cleaning station.
The DPW reminds residents that, as of Dec. 1, it will only collect bagged leaves.