LEWISTON, N.Y. — Artpark is one busy place on a Tuesday night during the summer, but some Western New Yorkers say there aren’t enough convenient parking spots for people with disabilities.
"Oh, its been a total hassle," said Dennis White. "We went from having twenty people up there, we're down to like four of us.
Every Tuesday, White and his friends go to Artpark. The tradition started twenty years ago. Both White and his friend Lewis West need handicapped accessible parking, but — about a year-and-a-half ago — White says several handicapped spots in the lot with the big paint stripes started getting blocked-off on concert days.
"So, that's where you guys were all parking," said 2 On Your Side’s Kelly Dudzik.
"We always park there because that is the closest spot to the venue," said White.
White has tried parking there, but says he's usually met by gates, yellow caution tape, and signs saying “Danger, Keep Out.”
"So then, where were you parking?" asked Dudzik.
"Oh, we had to park in the general parking," said White.
White says they were also offered spots on top of the hill.
"I'm just a little teed off about this," explained West.
“Are you giving it one more chance today?" asked Dudzik.
"I'm giving it another chance today, and find out what's going to go on here, and if it's not going to be solved, I'll just have to keep on trying," says West.
After more than a year of problems, White contacted 2 On Your Side.
Monday, we spoke with the communications director of Artpark to request an interview. When we didn't hear back, we emailed. We also called the NYS Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation Department. A spokesperson emailed back saying our request to speak with Artpark got forwarded to him.
Artpark is operated by Artpark & Company, Inc. through an agreement with the state.
The state's email said it is installing eight additional accessible spots in the "Concert Sponsor" area this week. The spots will be done by the end of the week weather permitting.
"That's what they're doing right now," White said. "So, they're taking what they considered almost, like I said I can count it, but like 17 spots, and they reduced it to eight, so how did they increase?"
"Are you satisfied with this response from the state?" asked Dudzik.
"No, not at all," said White.
"What are you going to do next?" asked Dudzik.
"Probably contact and file an ADA report, and I'm looking into getting a lawyer," says White.
The state also told us that Artpark significantly exceeds the number of spaces required to be ADA compliant, and it's committed to ensuring that all patrons have full access to Artpark from all parking areas.
UPDATE: Artpark added new paint Tuesday night to mark the accessible parking spots in the Concert Sponsor parking lot.