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Jet Boat addition gets go-ahead from Lewiston board

The Village Board on Tuesday approved plans for a $1 million addition to the Whirlpool Jet Boat complex.

Board members, who voted 4-0 with Trustee Ernest K. Krell absent, praised the project along the Niagara River and disputed suggestions that trustees have not considered the feelings of residents.

"Everyone has been listened to," said Village Attorney Edward P. Jesella Jr. "What the community was not sure of is whether the village is giving away half the docks, and they are right to do so, but that's not happening. This has turned into public hearings to get rid of the Jet Boat, but that's not what this is supposed to be about."

Trustee Victor E. Eydt agreed, saying that it was a worthwhile project.

"Things have been so far-fetched and have gotten personal about getting rid of the Jet Boat," Eydt said.

The addition, adjacent to the Water Street Landing Restaurant, which Whirlpool Jet Boat owner and President John Kinney also owns and leases, will feature a new entrance and covered patio and also provide new public restrooms and a changing area on the lower level.

The issue of permanent, sliding-glass doors with access to the covered street-level patio was not approved last week by the Planning Board, which had approved the expansion. However, the Village Board gave the go-ahead for the glass doors after viewing renderings of similar-style buildings.

Kinney said after the meeting that the Planning Board was aware that the enclosures were needed to provide security for cash registers, video monitors and souvenirs after hours and that they also provide a windbreak for Jet Boat patrons.

"It's a much better option [for the view] than roll-up doors," Kinney said. "It's far more costly, but it's the most professional." He estimated that this option would cost an additional $75,000.

Kinney assured board members that with no air conditioning on the covered patio, the doors would be open on most warm days in June, July and August. He also told the board that public access to a balcony at the water's edge would be available whenever the restaurant/bar is open. He said that this balcony will put people 30 to 40 feet closer to the river than is now possible.

The approved plan will prohibit live entertainment on Water Street Landing's existing deck from extending onto the new street-level patio.

A lawsuit opposing the project has been filed by Niagara Falls businessman and resident Jerry Williams, who has disputed the token sale of a small parcel of village land for $1. The case will be heard in State Supreme Court next month.

After the meeting, Kinney called the sale a "savvy move" by the board.

Mayor Terry Collesano said that the expansion is preferable to the overcrowded temporary restrooms and that another factor in the decision was private ownership of a building sitting on public property, which created a liability.

Kinney said plans are to break ground in mid-March, with opening by Memorial Day or mid- to late June.

e-mail: nfischer@buffnews.com

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