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Village of Lewiston moves to solve Artpark concerts’ parking troubles

LEWISTON – With the first day of spring just a couple of weeks away, the Village Board on Monday turned its discussion toward the nagging problem of parking and traffic during the Artpark summer concert season.

Deputy Mayor Bruce Sutherland, who stood in for the absent Mayor Terry Collesano, appointed Trustee Daniel R. Gibson to head a committee that will include area residents and the village zoning officer to look at a lingering problem from last summer – pop-up parking, which involves residents using their yards as mini parking lots, and in some cases charging fees to park cars near Artpark on concert nights.

Village Attorney Joseph Leone said the village code limits to two the number of vehicles parked at a home at any one time.

“The vagueness and complexity comes in when a (person) is having a number of guests at their home and they have more than two cars there. How does that fly in the face of someone collecting $10 or $15 to park cars?” asked Leone.“There is certainly permitting required to operate a business.”

The board tried to stop the growing practice near the end of last summer, but faced opposition from residents who argued that they were just allowing friends and family members to park in their yard, but were not charging a fee.

“We tried to do away with (pop-up parking,) but there was a lot of consternation about that,” said Sutherland.

“(The rules) didn’t address some cases where it might be acceptable,” said Lewiston Police Sgt. Frank Previte.

However Previte cautioned that it was important to note that every yard that adds cars is increasing the load of traffic in the area.

“Before you know it, you have up to 100 cars down there,” said Previte.

Previte told the board that there was a traffic pattern plan meeting with Artpark and State Police at the beginning of last summer.

Superintendent of Public Works Terry Brolinski said Artpark took over putting up temporary “no parking” street signs on concert nights.

“The problem with (Artpark) being involved is they don’t stick to what we want and by mid-season, the signs trickle down to one every block,” said Previte.

“It’s our village,” said Sutherland. “We should be telling them where to park, not Artpark.”

In another matter, the board approved a facilities request to hold the annual Lewiston Smelt Fest from 6 to 10 p.m. on May 1 in the Lewiston Waterfront parking lot. The request was submitted by the Niagara River Region Chamber.

The Chamber, along with the Silo Restaurant and the Niagara River Anglers, host the free event. In addition to free samples of battered smelt, there is music, other food options and a beer tent. Participating area restaurants will offer smelt specials, as well.

The board also announced there will be a special Planning Board meeting at 6 p.m. Monday. A public hearing will be held on plans for Fairchild Place, a multimillion-dollar, three-story, 36-unit apartment complex proposed on the site of the former Fairchild Manor nursing home, at 765 Fairchild Place and Onondaga Street. In addition to the apartment complex the plans also propose the development of five vacant lots adjacent to the apartment complex.