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Village of Lewiston rescinds eclipse street closing, hears from fire co. volunteer about need for members

by jmaloni
Fri, Jan 19th 2024 10:00 am

By Joshua Maloni

GM/Managing Editor

The Village of Lewiston Board voted Tuesday to rescind prior approval given to the Historical Association of Lewiston to close Center Street on April 8 for an eclipse viewing event. Trustees Tina Coppins and Dan Gibson voted “no,” preferring the roadway remain available to HAL for reenactment programming that had been billed, “The Eclipse: A Step Back in Time.”

Welch and Lewiston Police Department Chief Frank Previte recently expressed concern about closing the village’s main thoroughfare while upward of thousands of people could be clustered together to watch the rare celestial event. HAL was set to augment the occasion with historical reenactments, and organizer Lee Simonson asked to have street and business lights dimmed.

Welch said, “After talking to the chief and Niagara County about everybody coming in these communities, the chief was really worried about closing the street. He said … if anything happens, they can't draw (in extra first responders) from another community, because they have their own set of people there. And, safety wise, it wasn't a good idea. They don't know if we're going to get 10,000, or 100,000 people, or whatever. And I don't know if (New York State) DOT would have allowed it anyway, because it is their street.”

Coppins said there’s always a risk when Center Street is closed, as is the case with summer festivals and fall/winter parades, or when people come to the village for a popular concert.

But Welch said the difference is that eclipse viewing events will simultaneously be taking place across Western New York. When Lewiston has an event of its own, “(Previte) calls other police agencies in (for extra manpower and support) when we have big festivals. He said, ‘I can't do that. That's just us, and if anything goes wrong. …”

Previte was unable to attend the board meeting.

Academy Park pavilion drawings courtesy of Fittante Architecture.

Pavilion Plan Moving Forward

A pavilion at Academy Park is one step closer to being constructed now that the Niagara River Greenway Commission has approved funding. Welch said that board recently approved the Town of Lewiston’s project endorsement – which comes with $190,000 in funding for the 110-feet-by-60-feet structure, set to go next to the Alphonso I. DiMino Memorial Band Shell.

Welch said the municipality has received $120,000 in private donations. She suggested another $40,000 could be pulled from proceeds of the sale of the “Big Yellow House” on Ridge Street. The Village of Lewiston could then put $350,000 toward the project, which will go to bid following input from the Historic Preservation and Planning commissions.

Academy Park pavilion drawings courtesy of Fittante Architecture.


Lewiston Fire Co. No. 1 EMS volunteer Kevin Krueger speaks to members of the Village Board.

Fire Company Seeks Volunteers

Lewiston Fire Co. No. 1 EMS volunteer Kevin Krueger appeared at the start of the board meeting with a request for suggestions on how to cast a wider net in recruiting new members.

He explained, “We’re volunteers. Our community hasn't gotten smaller – and I'm not trying to be insensitive – our community’s getting older.

“We do over 1,000 calls – not all EMS – but we do over 1,000 calls a year.”

Krueger said the work is hard, but the rewards are lasting.

“There's a woman that came up to me at Gather and she said, ‘Are you Kevin?’ And I said, ‘Yes.’ And she said, ‘You helped me say goodbye to my father.’ Her father had a heart attack. We worked on him for 36 minutes on his living room floor. There was me and like six other people. … He lived long enough – two or three days – for her to come home from Maryland and say goodbye to her father.”

Village of Lewiston Fire Inspector Barry Beebe said the fire department has about 60 members – down from 80-plus a decade ago – and, of that number, approximately 40 are active.

Moreover, “There’s times we go to a structure fire and the average age in the truck, including me, is around 60.”

“That’s scary,” Deputy Mayor Vic Eydt said.

“It is scary,” Beebe said.

Welch said, “It would be nice if we could get some people to step up and do this, because it's very rewarding when you do help out, when you save a life. …

“I don't think it's really a hard course. I think you just need the basics to do this.

“It's worth saving a live.”

The fire department recently announced a new recruitment and retention initiative. A press release stated, “This category … allows new membership and the retention of current members who are very busy or live out of Lewiston 1’s district. They can schedule their duty time to satisfy membership requirements instead of a call response percentage, which is uncontrollable.

“What does this mean for you? It means that, if you can dedicate 16-24 hours per month to the fire and EMS service of our community, Lewiston Fire Company No. 1 has a place for you!

“Their station is outfitted with sleeping quarters, a fitness center, full kitchen and lounge area, which allows for those from out of the immediate area to volunteer in the comforts of the station, or those who live close, from home.”

Those interested in volunteering can fill out an online application at www.lfd1.com, and drop it off or mail it to the firehall at 145 N. Sixth St. For more information, call 716-754-4487, ext. 201.

The Lewiston Fire Co. No. 1 firehall at 145 N. Sixth St.


No New Self-Storage?

Trustee Nick Conde asked if the board would consider amending the village code to add language prohibiting new self-storage facilities. A public hearing is expected to be scheduled for February.

If a new law is passed, it would not affect the existing self-storage business on Cayuga Street.

Eydt also suggested residents be given a default time limit to use individual storage containers.

Welch noted a permit might be required, with extensions granted by the zoning officer.

Mark Your Calendars

Trustees approved several event-related motions:

•Three of the Lewiston Council on the Arts’ major events for 2024: The Lewiston Art Festival, to be held Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 10-11, along Center Street; Academy Park concerts with the Summer of ’69 on Friday, July 12, and the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra on Saturday, July 27; and Hennepin Park concerts on Mondays, July 1-29 and Aug. 5.

•The annual Northwest Jazz Festival, slated for Aug. 23-24 on Center Street. Through Aug. 25, Jazz Festival board members will be permitted to use village facilities including the International Peace Garden and Hennepin Park; and Center Street, from Fourth to Seventh streets.

In addition, the municipality waived the open container bottle law for the festival.

•Rachel Jolbert’s request to stage two larger iterations of the weekly Lewiston Artisan Farmers Market, each requiring more access to Academy Park, on Saturdays, June 29 and Oct. 12.

•Niagara Hospice will hold the Mighty Niagara Half Marathon and Hospice Dash 5K on Saturday, Oct. 5. The former takes off from Porter on the Lake Park, while the latter leaves from Artpark State Park.

Coulter Farms was again given permission to host a daily farmstand, from 8 a.m. to dusk (June 1 through Dec. 1), at the Lewiston Landing area near the fish-cleaning station on Center and North Water streets. Approval is contingent on a new contract with the village.

As was the case in 2023, Coulter Farms will be charged $25 for each day of operation.

•iRun WNY Inc. will present the 2024 Niagara Falls USA Marathon and Half-Marathon on Saturday, April 27, starting and ending at Artpark State Park; and the Historic Lewiston 5K on Friday, April 26, commencing from Marilyn Toohey Park at the Red Brick Municipal Building.

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