Tonawanda News

NT

June 27, 2014

Public piano set for approval in NT

Tonawanda News — Members of the North Tonawanda Common Council are ready to approve the placement of a piano on Webster Street for a good portion of the summer, despite the fact it is already fixated along the street. 

The initiative was brought to the council several months ago through the North Tonawanda Downtown Merchants’ Association, after members were approached by Mark Weber. Weber first spawned the idea last year in Buffalo, where through donations, he placed pianos in various sections of the Queen City.  

But there’s just one problem: Nobody from the city has talked to him, officials said. 

While concerns over insurance and liability issues were a topic of conversation this week, the council appears poised to approve the campaign, called “Pianos in Public.” 

“We are all good with the concept,” said Mayor Rob Ortt, “It was just about getting the information that was a problem.” 

Councilman-At-Large Mal Needler expressed concerns this week that the city has not received the answers it has sought. City Attorney Shawn Nickerson said he has reached out to Weber on several occasions, to no avail. 

“I have a call out and I’m waiting for a call back,” Nickerson said. “It’s going to be in a public right of way and we don’t want liability issues. These are things that can be worked out and I don’t foresee any issues with it but the discussion needs to be had.”

City officials didn’t specify what liability issues a piano might present.

And while city leaders appear annoyed at the way the concept has been brought to them, they have also largely backed the plan as another in the growing number of reasons to come to Webster Street. 

Second Ward Councilwoman Donna Braun called the public piano a “unique concept.” 

“I think it’s good for the city,” she said. “It brings more attention to down to Webster Street.” 

Nickerson said if approved the piano, now situated in front of Partners in Art on Webster, would remain on the street through the fall. 

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