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Shortsighted changes hurt Artpark, Lewiston

Once again, officials and business leaders have been terribly shortsighted in their efforts to "improve" the area. Visitors to the Tuesday in the Park concerts at Artpark will no longer be able to attend free of charge. Park officials have erected a fence to limit access and are hoping that the 30,000 music fans who have been attending these concerts will drop to a mere 10,000 or 15,000.

The reasoning behind this maneuver is mixed at best. Once side says it is to limit the number of people in the area to please Lewiston residents; while the other says that the changes are necessary to continue offering the "high-priced talent" that has been appearing at the park in the past few years.

For starters, purposefully eliminating at least half of the concert population will severely decrease the claimed needed income to pay for the performers. Not only will the parking fees be cut off, but so will the money made from the high-priced concessions; not to mention the boatload of money that will be lost from the music fans who stay in the area after the show to frequent the local establishments. And while the locals complain about the behavior of those visitors, I bet they love the money.

If officials were so worried about the number of music fans and the vehicles that clogged the streets, then they should have looked for a better solution, like arranging a deal with the NFTA for bus service to and from the park. Even if concert goers had to pay $1.75 each way for the bus, it would have been considerably less than the parking fees -- an enticement to use the bus along with the fact that they would not have to walk several blocks to get into the park.

The boost in NFTA ridership would have been of great benefit to the NFTA, Artpark and the Town of Lewiston. But with the new policies in place, Artpark and the Town of Lewiston stand to lose a great deal of money, visitors and musical acts. Remember, this is a tourist area with millions of visitors each year coming to the region.

Sherrill Fulghum

Niagara Falls

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Kudos to West Seneca for rescinding town law

The West Seneca Town Board recently rescinded an ordinance that required homeowners to obtain a certificate of occupancy prior to the transfer of ownership of their residential property. This was subsequent to two other revisions: a requirement to replace the sewer line lateral, regardless of its condition, and remove drains in the basement and garage that lead directly into the sewer line. The Buffalo Niagara Association of Realtors (BNAR) was extremely vocal in its opposition to all three issues and, along with a number of West Seneca homeowners, succeeded in having them overturned.

It's easy to criticize town officials for enacting such ordinances, but this would be simplistic. The ordinances regarding the sewer line and drains were the result of recommendations made to resolve the sewage problem and state court order imposed on West Seneca, and the certificate of occupancy requirement was passed in 2007 and wasn't enforced until recently. If town officials are to be faulted, it would be for not understanding the potential impact of their actions, but with a smaller board, fewer officials are forced to gather more information on complex issues. While not impossible, their task is significantly more difficult.

The BNAR has taken a more diplomatic look at these events. We give credit to those officials who listened to citizens and recognized that the ordinances were burdensome and lacked merit. The flexibility to reverse a decision in government is all too uncommon, and we find the Town Board's actions to be refreshing as well as correct.

Representatives from the Realtor's association look forward to working with all government officials on any issue that directly or indirectly impacts homeowners and property rights. One of this region's greatest assets is its quality of life, and we devote ourselves to protecting it.

Amy Winklhofer

President, BNAR

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Drivers who speed waste a lot of money

What the heck is the problem with the average driver? People complain about gas prices, but at the same time they drive like they are at Lancaster Speedway. I drive between 60 and 65 mph on the Thruway and 100 percent of the cars behind me pass me by. They are doing between 70 and 85 mph. What is the matter with these drivers?

I have two sports cars that will do 160 mph and I don't drive like that. Where is the fire? Has our society become so narcissistic that people just do as they please? Do any of these bubbleheads realize that for every 5 mph over 60, they add 20 cents to the price they pay for a gallon of gas? So if you are driving 75 mph, you are adding 60 cents to the $4 gas price, actually paying more like $4.60 a gallon.

Unfortunately, regardless of this letter, this message is unlikely to reach the speeders, who are in a hurry to go nowhere.

John Lutz

Orchard Park

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Monitor scrap dealers to curb theft of copper

Copper prices have risen to nearly $4 per pound, but scrap yards aren't the only ones paying big money. Western New York is paying dearly for recent copper thefts, not only financially but also with one of our region's biggest cultural assets -- its historic buildings.

Damage caused by copper thieves is dramatically disproportionate to the metal they salvage. Last summer, thieves stole $100 in copper pipes from a Town of Niagara home. The vacant house filled with natural gas, causing a violent explosion, destroying the structure and damaging several nearby buildings, causing $150,000 in damage.

Historic and culturally significant structures are being targeted as well. Several thefts have occurred in recent years in Elmlawn Cemetery. Local churches like St. Joseph's on the West Side have fallen victim. Just weeks ago, thieves caused $20,000 in damage to Lockport's Historic Palace Theater while stripping $600 in copper.

Architectural gems like the Central Terminal and Richardson Complex have also suffered at the hands of thieves.

The real costs of copper theft are quickly piling up, leaving property owners and taxpayers to foot the bill. Even worse, the bulk of the damage occurs in poor areas like the cities of Buffalo and Niagara Falls, where residents already struggle with property damage and blight, and where desperation leads to crimes of opportunity.

In 2008, a law was passed requiring scrap dealers to check photo ID for anyone selling more than $50 worth of copper. However, the problem hasn't gone away. If anything, it has gotten worse. Many small-scale scrap dealers simply operate under the radar. Scrap dealers of all sizes must be monitored more closely to cut off the supply cash to these thieves. How long before another piece of Buffalo history is reduced to scrap?

Ryan McCarthy

Kenmore