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Cruise night in Wheatfield to stay burnout-free, board rules

LOCKPORT -- The Niagara County Board of Health stuck to its guns Tuesday and refused to drop its ban on a tire burnout contest.

On June 28, the board decided unanimously that the weekly Wednesday burnout pit at the Shredd and Ragan Cruise Night at The Summit, a Wheatfield shopping mall, violated the county sanitary code.

The promoters attended Tuesday's meeting to try to make a compromise. The board indicated that something could be discussed, but they would not lift their order for now.

Kathy Paradowski, the event organizer, suggested reducing the number of cars in the pit from 10 to four or five, and how long they are peeling rubber from two or three minutes to less than one.

Assistant County Attorney J. Michael Fitzgerald said the cease-and-desist order remains in effect because the event is a violation of state and county sanitary codes.

He said the Health Department might be willing to work on a compromise, but he warned, "We would have to find a spot that's sufficiently remote not to affect homes."

Public Health Director Daniel J. Stapleton said that department staffers have visited the event and took photos and videos of the burnout pit.

"On one occasion they went so far as to follow the plume of smoke," Stapleton said. "They came up with an estimate of 1,200 homes affected. They saw the plume at the homes."

Fitzgerald attributed a spike in complaints about the three-year-old event this year to an increase in the number of nights with an east wind.

Some nearby residents attended the meeting to try to make sure the board didn't back down.

One of those east wind nights perturbed Arthur Humpartzoomian, of Brookhaven Drive, as tire smoke drifted into his home.

"I spent the rest of my summer evening coughing and spitting, and I'm sure it didn't help my macular degeneration," Humpartzoomian said. "Did they stop when the wind shifted? No, because they didn't care."

Paradowski said the cruise nights will continue without the burnout pit, although she would prefer to keep it going.

"We're not here to break the law," she said. "I'll talk to their engineers. It's part of the event we would like to continue in some capacity."

Humpartzoomian also voiced objections to the noise generated by the event.

Board of Health President John Gotowko said "noise pollution" is not under the board's enforcement powers -- that would be governed by the Town of Wheatfield.

e-mail: tprohoska@buffnews.com

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