"This is a new year. A new beginning. And things will change." - Taylor Swift
Change is moving apace in Lewiston, as new Town Supervisor Dennis M. Brochey settles into his new position.
One of Brochey's policy goals is to recalibrate the relationship of town and village to Artpark, in terms of the cost of police protection on concert nights ($74,500
last year) and the allocation of tipping fees ($120,000 annually) derived from Houston, TX-based multinational Modern Disposal. Brochey would like to eliminate both
expenditures, and apply the savings to needed projects more directly benefiting Lewiston residents.
While Artpark will showcase legendary performers Ringo Starr and Ziggy Marley, for the most part, this and recent summers' line-ups have been characterized by ho-hum
assemblages of has-been '70's and '80's hair bands, usually featuring one or two grizzled, arthritic members of the original band who happen to own the legal rights to
the name, be it "38 Special", "The Doobie Brothers", "Boston" or "Megadeth".
But the throngs of fans who turn out for the proxy bands, attempting to relive carefree, pot-smoking, rock concert glory days, anchored en masse to canvas director
chairs in the amphitheater, in general have a good time. Although a panic concerning a drug issue did arise among the crowd at one concert last year: apparently some
bad Metamucil got passed around.
Crowd at ZZ Top Concert.
Until last year, Artpark concerts routinely drew over 30,000+. Then a nominal admission charge went into effect and not only were the crowds more manageable, they were
generally composed of fans who were there for the music as opposed to the party. Not that there's anything wrong with a party. Just ask the teenyboppers dropped off by
their parents to attend the show who disappear into the adjacent woods before the stupid rock music starts. Then, of course, there's the drunks on loud Harleys and
traffic congestion on village streets and the loud music itself for hours every Tuesday night. Not exactly what most people living in the white, affluent enclave had
bargained for when they moved there.
While these may not entirely, partially or even remotely be representative of Supervisor Brochey's sentiments regarding the rock shows, it's worth looking at where he
believes the current Artpark subsidies from town and village might better be directed.
Brochey has highlighted how this funding could have completely ameliorated the $24,000 increase in Village of Lewiston taxes this year. According to him, "It is
obvious that Artpark is now costing each village household an average of $20 per year. If that doesn't sound like much to you then ask the many seniors living in the
village that are on fixed incomes."
He points to other pressing needs: leaky roofs at both the senior center and sewer department buildings, a senior center bus with over 170,000 miles on it, water
infrastructure, including a water line in front of Lewiston-Porter School grounds, that badly needs replacement.
In a letter to John Camp, Chairman of Artpark and Company (the non-profit that runs the concerts), Brochey proposed compromises that could balance the playing field,
compromises that had been proposed in past years that would satisfy the budgetary requirements of the town and village yet allow concerts and arts programs at the
facility to continue.
"Initially as a Village Trustee, along with the other Village Board members, (I) asked for just 18 cents per ticket for our Artpark costs. (The offer was) DECLINED.
The latest talk, as Town Supervisor, was for Artpark to add a $1.00 surcharge for both the Town and Village. I even suggested to you to keep 20% for your trouble in
this matter which would benefit us all. In return, we would continue with giving you our great police service and also give you the Modern tipping fees as before. Mr.
Camp, you declined that offer as well."
Seeking solutions, Brochey states, "Artpark is an incredible asset to our community, but like you with Artpark, I have an obligation to those who are relying on me to
do what is best for Lewiston... I do not have a negative posture towards Artpark but a positive position to the people of Lewiston. I feel I came in at a bad time
financially for the town. Artpark is only one of several areas I am working on to bring the Town and Village of Lewiston to a better financial and structural shape."
Founded in 1997, the non-profit Artpark and Company, with an approximate annual budget of $5 million, benefits also from its relationship with the New York Office of
State Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, which last year funded over $15 million in improvements to the facility as a concert venue. George Osborne,
President of Artpark, is salaried at $140,000 annually.
In the view of Supervisor Brochey, after 18 years, it's time Artpark stood on its own two feet.
Hard to imagine Artpark can't pay for its own police, Brochey wants Artpark to pay for its own art and stop putting the burden on the people of Lewiston.
While Artpark can afford to pay George Osborne $140,000 per year to book shows, - a for profit type of salary- they cry poor and claim they can't afford to pay for police protection? The Reporter suspects that Artpark could make enough money on their concerts and concessions to pay for their own concerts and still pay Osborne his top wages. If they can't then Osborne should take the hit, not the people of Lewiston, who are becoming in- creasingly annoyed with the oft times boorish behavior of the mot- ley crowds and raucous sounds assailing them Tuesday nights in the prime of summer.
Artparks's George Osborne