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Plan aims to ease traffic jams during Artpark's Tuesday concerts

A plan to change traffic flow, limit on-street parking and ban paid private parking during Artpark's Tuesday in the Park summer concert series was announced at a Village Board work session Monday.

The proposals were the result of recommendations made at meetings between Village and Artpark officials, Lewiston Police, State Parks Police and Niagara County Sheriff James Voutour, Mayor Terry Collesano said.

Lewiston Police Commissioner Al Soluri, a village resident, said authorities are trying to get traffic to flow more smoothly as concertgoers leave.

"It takes two hours to leave after a concert and if we can even cut this time in half, then that's a start," Soluri said.

Fourth Street will become a one-way street after Tuesday concerts, to allow two lanes of traffic to exit the lower level parking lot, Soluri said. Traffic will be directed to these two lanes and the right lane will exit east onto Center Street and the left lane will be directed north past Center Street, following 18F to Pletcher Road. Traffic then will be directed to the Robert Moses Parkway via Pletcher Road.

In addition, no parking will be allowed on either side of North Fourth Street, between Tuscarora and Oneida streets. Parking also will be restricted to one side of the road on other side streets. Parking in the Center Street business area would not be affected.

The Portage Road upper level parking lot should also have some relief by summer when the state plans to open the Seneca Street exit onto the Robert Moses Parkway, Soluri said.

Collesano said both the town and village have offered their services to help the state open this new exit, which would only be used on concert nights.

Also under discussion is a proposed village ordinance that would ban paid parking on private property Tuesday nights.

"A lot of residents have said, 'I didn't buy a house to live next to a parking lot,' " Soluri said. He said currently the police have no control because there is no ordinance, and told the board that something has to be on the books.

Board Member Bruce Sutherland said he could see offering special permits for those who offer paid parking.

"I feel for these people who live in the war zone," Sutherland said. "It's some compensation for being there."

Collesano said private lots create confusion and congestion. He noted that a public hearing must be held before any new ordinance could be passed.

Soluri said enforcement of new parking rules would be key. He said two town police cars would be dedicated to writing tickets.

"We have to enforce this to make them do what we want. Right now people park anywhere because they know they can," Soluri said.

"We've been talking about [making changes] for six years. Nobody's done anything and this is a start," he said. "If we can conquer this, Artpark will not be the problem it is."

Collesano agreed. "Many of us believe that if you can get traffic out faster, there will be less problems with vandalism and kids," the mayor said.

Soluri also pointed to the audit the village was presented earlier at Monday's meeting, which showed increased sales tax numbers.

"As much as I have problems with Artpark," he said, "it is still a huge benefit to the village. You've seen the audit."

e-mail: nfischer@buffnews.com

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