Christmas lights on Center Street. Photo courtesy of Larry Wells/Department of Public Works
By Joshua Maloney
General Manager / Editorial Director
Trustees in the village of Lewiston voted Monday to approve a proposal to increase the municipal water rate 8 cents — from $3.95 to $4.03 per 100 cubic feet of use — effective January 1, 2023. Mayor Anne Welch stressed that the measure is the result of equating the rate increase from Niagara County Water District.
“We buy our water from the Niagara County Water District, and that’s the price, that’s what we have to pay,” Welch said.
Board members recently learned that municipal fees were going up from $0.90 per 1,000 gallons to $1 per 1,000 gallons.
Two residents spoke at a public hearing before the vote. Seek details about billing practices and budget lines.
The vote for the rate increase was 4-0. Trustee Tina Coppins was excused from the hearing.
In other news from Monday’s monthly meeting:
Halloween was an event
Entertainment director Brendan McDermott reports that the Halloween family programming event far exceeded expectations.
“We had a great turnout on our scavenger hunt,” he said. “One of the things I would recommend for next year is the possibility of Center Street closing – even if that means moving it to Sunday, when it wouldn’t affect business as much.
“The turnout we had was unbelievable. So, just for safety’s sake. But that’s definitely something we can discuss as we get closer to that next year.”
“I totally agree with that,” Welch said. “I said the same thing, that we need to keep them safe.”
The scavenger hunt included appearances by the “Salem Sisters” and opportunities to collect treats and treats from local merchants.
McDermott said, “It almost turned into Halloween II, honestly. That’s how busy it got.”
Welch replied, “On Halloween, I didn’t get a lot of trick-or-treating, because there was a lot that weekend.
“I think (closing off the street) is something we need to do next year. I think businesses want that too, because they just want everybody to be safe.”
Deputy Mayor Vic Edt said, “I think it was like the perfect storm. It was a perfect day. Beautiful weather. The sun was shining; it was the weekend. Everyone and their brother were out.”
It’s time to pick up the leaves
Department of Public Works Director Larry Wells told residents to “get out their papers.
“We’re going to continue all next week, and then we’re closing it out. So, they have this weekend, the beginning of next week, and then we’re going to start closing it up — because if we get a snow surprise again, it really hurts us not having those extra trucks.”
Welch said, “December. 1, you’ve got to pack up your papers. No more pickup trucks. … Don’t put them out on the street.”
The trustees also thanked the Public Works Department for its snow removal efforts over the weekend.
“We’re spoiled,” Welch said.
Wells replied, “The guys did a great job.” They worked all day Saturday, and then went home for about six hours; Then they came back at 3 am. I stopped him before the traffic started.”
Dealing with LPD spoilers
Lewiston Police Department Capt. Mike Salada reported five recent acts of vandalism to the board. He said that juvenile offenders would paint graffiti on cars and garage doors.
Over the weekend, “one of our officers caught them in the act. They were issued tickets to appear” in court, Salada said.
The trustees said they will take additional time to decide whether or not relaxation of laws related to the coronavirus pandemic will remain in place.
When businesses were closed, or at least forced to use takeout and delivery-only models in March 2020, the board sought ways to help promote local retailers and restaurants.
With coronavirus cases recently decreasing, and restrictions easing, the Planning Commission has asked that laws preventing A-frame signs be reinstated.
Short term rentals
Proposed proposals and guidelines from the newly formed committee on short-term rentals are imminent, Edt said, and members “want to finish this thing” by February.
The trustees are looking for uniformity and clarity in zoning in relation to Airbnb businesses.
Tree lighting ceremony
The village’s annual Christmas tree lighting will take place at 7 p.m. on Friday, December 2, at the Alphonso I. DiMino Memorial Band Shell in Academy Park, McDermott said. The event is free and open to the public. It will include performances by the Lewiston Dance Center, St Peter RC School Choir and “Characters of Wonderland” as well as free books and candy canes courtesy of the Lewiston Public Library.
On a related note, Wills said the Public Works Department had just finished stringing holiday lights along Center Street. Hanging wreaths was next on his holiday to-do list.