Bills, Orchard Park Police to meet with private lot owners Tuesday

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (WIVB)- Bills fans have a reputation for being rowdy and it has the Bills and Orchard Park Police concerned about safety in private owned lots.

Videos from last Bills season show fans jumping on tables and catching themselves on fire, and one even captured a couple having sex.

On Aug. 31 a letter was sent out to private lot owners expressing safety concerns. Bills Vice President of Operations and Guest Experience Andy Major, and Orchard Park Police Chief Mark Pacholec said in the letter “we are seeing many of these unfortunate situations in the neighborhood parking lots that the Bills do not own.”

Lot owners disagree.

“I’ve been working here for over 25 years, parking cars for stadium events and we’ve never had any of the problems listed in that letter,” said Mark Lester, who owns Yellow Brick Parking.

He is a third generation lot owner and parks about 100 vehicles per game.

“The reason people park at my yard is because it is safe, it is safer than the stadium,” said Lester.

Down the road, the owner of Chuckie’s Parking told News 4 a similar story. Charles Sonntag has parked cars for more than 40 years.

“It’s happening at the stadium lots, right near the stadium lots,” said Sonntag.

In the letter, however, Major and Chief Pacholec ask private lot owners to get a permit from the town to let police on their property.

They said in the letter, “Realistically, a very large percentage of the private lot owners that don’t ever have or report issues may never see law enforcement.”

But Lester said it would violate his rights and having police patrol private lots isn’t a good use of the police force.

“I think it would be a horrible misallocation of resources,” said Lester.

Sonntag said it would cause him to lose customers.

“I’m not going to abide and get a permit because my customers don’t want police on my property,” said Sonntag.

Chief Pacholec brought the idea before the Town Board months ago but they haven’t acted on it.

He and the Bills have now invited lot owners to a meeting Tuesday night.

The Bills sent us this statement, “This meeting is the latest extension of our Fan Behavior programs and we are hopeful that it provides us with an opportunity to serve as good neighbors by sharing valuable information with the private parking lot owners in the area. The information we are sharing is in regards to game day best practices that have proven successful in the Bills-controlled lots. It also provides an opportunity for us to show our continued support for our law enforcement partners, such as Orchard Park Police.”

We reached out to Chief Pacholec for an interview and he did not get back to News 4.

The private meeting takes place Tuesday night at One Bills Drive from 6:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. Lot owners were asked to RSVP to the event.

Chief Pacholec and the Bills can only ask lot owners to allow officers on their property but Orchard Park Supervisor Patrick Keem said the Town Board is still considering making this law. He plans to attend the meeting to “listen and learn”.

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