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Lewiston kayaker launches a grassroots protest over launching fees

LEWISTON – The Village Board on Monday adopted a proposed budget of $3.35 million for 2015-16 that promises a modest increase in the tax rate.

But one resident was at the meeting to confront the board on a much more personal increase, which has hit her and other kayakers hard in the pocketbook – and more than 300 people agree and have signed an online petition to support her grassroots efforts protesting the $8 fees that were being charged to kayakers at the village’s boat launch last summer.

Diana J. Lewandowski, a Lewiston resident and business owner, said she was surprised how quickly the word got out on Facebook in just the past two weeks. The petition was posted on

Lewiston Mayor Terry C. Collesano said after complaints last summer the Village Board lowered the rate to $4, but Lewandowski said that is still too high for a sport that had always been free in the past. She said unlike boaters, kayakers don’t usually even return to the spot where they pay to leave the dock in Lewiston, instead floating down the river with the current to leave the water in Youngstown.

Collesano said the rate was set last summer after consultation from the Harbor Master and concerns from boaters who had protested that kayakers were tying up the docks.

“We’ve always been respectful of paying boaters and stayed out of their way,” Lewandowski said.

“If some kayakers have been in their way then they are likely inexperienced and could simply be asked to stay off to the side until they are ready to launch.”

“We are going to try to come up with something that pleases everyone. Hopefully after we sit down with the Harbormaster we can come up with an amicable solution,” Collesano said.

Trustee Bruce Sutherland said the individual kayakers were not what started the problem.

“We had some commercial kayakers who were doing instruction at the docks and tying it up for a considerable amount of time,” said Sutherland.

In the other top business at the regular meeting, the board unanimously adopted its 2015–2016 budget.

The $3.35 million budget, is up less than 2 percent from the current budget of $3.31 million and will raise taxes 12-cents per $1,000 of assessed valuation, from $7.26 to $7.38 per $1,000, an increase of $120 per year for an average home assessed at $100,000.

Deputy Treasurer Ed Walker said the top five expenditures in the budget were for sewage treatment, fire protection, water services, employee benefits and police protection. Walker said they were able to save money in salaries in the clerk’s office and the Department of Public Works due to retirements.

Water and sewer rates will also increase, each rising by five cents per 100 cubic feet, with a quarterly bill of $100 rising $1.27. The rates for sewers will rise to $4.64 per 100 cubic feet of water consumed and the quarterly rate for water consumption will rise to $3.54 per 100 cubic feet of water consumed.

New rates and the new budget will go into effect on July 1. The full budget will be posted on the village website.