LEWISTON – Licensing fees to offer coin-operated games in the Village of Lewiston were called into question Monday by Emery Simon and Harold Hibbard, who have opened the new Lewiston Event Center in the former Frontier Lanes on Cayuga Street.
The two men spoke to the Village Board prior to the work session and told trustees that they are facing additional costs of $1,000 or more in annual fees in order to offer games.
The village currently charges a $35 per machine fee, plus a license fee of $100, to any establishment that offers games. For most bars and restaurants, that averages about $170 for a few video games, but in this case, as a business whose livelihood is games, the cost is becoming prohibitive, according to the two men.
Hibbard and Simon are reviving the former Frontier Lanes bowling alley at 845 Cayuga Street. They have removed 10 of the 40 lanes to make space for games, party rooms and meeting rooms for the new center.
Both men asked the board to consider something more reasonable. Simon said they have about 30 machines but will be adding more. “We are trying to revive the place and bring it back. … To pay another $1,000 in fees on top of the taxes it gets pretty ridiculous.”
Village Clerk Anne C. Welch said the fees go back many years and were at one time designed to discourage young people from “hanging out.”
Simon said he believes that if board members looked back, they would see that the intended purpose of the fee was to stop unattended game rooms where there was going to be trouble.
He and his partner contend that the fees are unfair for a recreational center such as theirs. “We saved the place from the wrecking ball. We are doing our best to bring it up,” Simon said.
Mayor Terry C. Collesano said that he understood the concerns and that the board was just beginning its budget deliberations and can further review those fees.
In another matter, the village approved adding another night of free concerts Thursdays at the Hennepin Park Gazebo on Fourth and Center streets. The six nights of those concerts sponsored by ArTunes will join the already busy village concert season, which includes events at Artpark on Tuesdays and Wednesdays and the Lewiston Council on the Arts’ Blue Mondays and Lewiston Jazz Project on Wednesdays, both also at the gazebo. The free concerts will be held from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. June 26, July 10 and 31, August 14 and 28 and Sept. 4.