OPEN MESSAGE TO TOWN BOARD

Amherst Town Board Councilmembers

By Judy Ferraro

To start…a few points

I firmly believe that everyone should have proper information and a voice in what should be built on Westwood and their Audubon Parkland. All will be varied, depending on where they live, priorities thereof, and recreational interests. That applies even among our own small group. exemplifying why it is so important for everyone to have the information and is able to partake in the development of these two prime beautiful examples of green space in Amherst.

There is no hard resolution deadline to proceed at warp speed as we are doing. It was changed once It can again. The resolution is non-binding.

Whatever was done before is irrelevant. It is the current plan that is being obfuscated and out of the public eye. This project having a document dump on July 2 and the SEQR submitted, today, the day of the vote, should never happen…All of you should know that.

Message:

I appreciate the efforts put forth to acquire Westwood and make it a beautiful, passive park with a touch of classic entertainment provided by Musical Fare. I appreciate the committees chosen to brainstorm as to how the transfer of Westwood would/could be achieved. I was on one of those committees. My understanding of committees, working with honorable people, on an honorable task, is that, in the end, the combined findings make their way to the owners…In this case, it is the PUBLIC. It is the TAXPAYERS. It is THEIR land, THEIR money and THEIR lives that will be affected by the consequences.. good or bad. THEY are the integral part of this transaction. And THEY have been excluded and their voices stifled. Is that/was that by design???

Deciding to move this latest rendition forward in a fog of no information or convoluted, confusing information while everyone is still in a Covid-19 stupor is disgusting, corrupt and evil. It is a breathtaking abuse of power…And a serious diversion of what you all ran on. Residents first. No, This is a blatant display of developers first, probably the worst that I have seen. And a wholesale sell-off of our parkland. The alienation of 93 acres was a huge mistake, in your hands! Any one who is complicit in this subterfuge, knowingly or not…would hopefully reexamine and/ or educate yourselves as to the underhandedness of what is going on here and deny the rezone, or any other action until such time as the public can be informed with all the details including financially and how their taxes will be affected. To do otherwise is an abdication of your duty to the electorate and betrays who you truly are.

Now, suddenly, we have to supercharge the charade to get it done? Still without people being fully informed and able to participate in decisions, while in a pandemic. Is it possible to be more out-of-touch, arrogant and corrupt??

Who knows, the community may like what you have created. But until they are told, no one knows. As it stands, the question now is, Westwood at what cost, the public must decide not selected people or group in CENTRAL PLANNING.

Never forget that you govern by the consent of the governed. They can’t be ignored. Deliberately circumventing them as you have been doing procedurally during the entire process is criminal. Subjugating yourselves to be in the service of developers to destroy central Amherst under the language of Amherst Central Park only underscores the web of deceit that you have employed to perpetrate one of the biggest con jobs on the people of Amherst.

Vote NO on any Comprehensive Plan amendment and/or rezoning of anything until the people are fully informed. This exchange of the people’s parkland is too important for the community to be excluded.

Comments (4)

BAIT AND SWITCH? SWAP OR SWINDLE?


UPDATE:
Apparently the Supervisor realized it didn’t look good for an official Town of Amherst video to be posted ONLY on his Facebook page, so all such videos of his (there were several) were pulled a day or two after we pointed this out to our readers. This may not be an admission anything by him, but it sure looks like some sort of a reaction to us.


The Town of Amherst (note the Amherst seal!) recently took the unusual action of posting a YouTube video “staring” Supervisor Brian Kulpa about the “Town Board’s plan” for the acquisition of Westwood from Mensch.

Is this a good faith effort at keeping the public informed on the Westwood initiative, or a blatant sales pitch to justify an unpopular deal that opens the door to the development of a portion of the Audubon Recreational Complex by Mensch?

Given the liberal use of suspension of the rules at Town Board meeting, and the slow drip, drip, drip of the little bits of information released over a long period of time about this deal, you be the judge.

Why has the Supervisor gone to the extraordinary effort of using a high profile YouTube video to communicate his Westwood plan, and why now? Does he feel that YouTube is more appropriate for his target audience, or is he trying to proactively reduce public resistance for this potentially huge change to Amherst?

Listen closely, and then ask yourself did you hear a coherent, well reasoned, and competent presentation that increases your confidence in the plan, or was it more of a collection loosely connected individual actions somehow related to each other which may or may not work.

Finally ask yourself why is all this happening without robust public interaction, and without the public being able to comment in-person at Planning Board and Town Board meetings?

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The BIG Town Board Meeting is Monday, July 6th

Amherst Municipal Building
5583 Main Street Williamsville, NY 14221

The Town Board’s BIG day is this Monday, July 6th is here!

Don’t miss it! These meeting will be epic.

Log in on Zoom at 4 pm then to another at 5 pm and the kicker at 6 pm as indicated below. Good viewing to all!

4 pm Public Work Session
(same as the Regular Town Board meeting, just stay connected)

To view the Work Session via Zoom:
Phone: 1-929-205-6099
    or on computer
Meeting ID: 886 6176 5986
Password: 149405

5 pm Regular Town Board Meeting

To view the Regular Town Board Meeting via Zoom:
Phone: 1-929-205-6099
      or on computer
Meeting ID: 886 6176 5986
Password: 149405

6 pm Special Town Board Meeting

To view the Special Town Board Meeting via Zoom:
Phone: 1-929-205-6099
      or on computer
Meeting ID: 816 4890 7151
Password: 338064

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“It stinks”

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BIG changes coming to the Town of Amherst!

Really?

The Work Session for the July 6th Regular Town Board meeting at 4 pm could prove “interesting”!

Agenda: http://amherstny.iqm2.com/citizens/FileOpen.aspx?Type=14&ID=2678&Inline=True


The full agendas for both July 6th Town Board meetings are now posted on the Town of Amherst meeting portal, and both are blockbusters!

The following are the resolutions that are the most concerning since they involve the selling or purchasing or swapping of very $$$ land namely the Town of Amherst land at the Audubon Recreational Complex and Mensch Capital Partners land at the former Westwood Country Club.

July 6th Regular Town Board meeting at 5 pm
http://amherstny.iqm2.com/Citizens/Detail_Meeting.aspx?ID=3778

2020-572   Creation of Amherst Central Park Guidance Task Force

2020-576   Statute of Limitations Tolling Agreement (CRS #2103) Between Mensch Capital Partners, LLC an the Town of Amherst

2020-577   Contract of Sale (CRS #2105) Between The Uniland Partnership of Delaware, L.P. and the Town of Amherst

2020-578   Purchase and Sale Agreement Between Town of Amherst and Bones & Guts, LLC(CRS #2107) Portion of 500 Maple Road

2020-579   Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) (CRS #2108) Between Mensch Capital Partners, LLC, Bones & Guts, LLC and the Town of Amherst

July 6th Special Town Board meeting at 6 pm
http://amherstny.iqm2.com/Citizens/Detail_Meeting.aspx?ID=3747

2020-567  500 Maple Road Rezoning


There are many more “normal” resolutions in these two Town Board meeting, but the passage of those listed above will fundamentally change the nature of what we call the Town of Amherst for years, if not decades to come.

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July 2020 Reminder Notes

On Thursday, July 2, 2020 the Town Board agendas for the next two Town Board meetings, both on Monday, July 6, 2020, will be posted on the Town of Amherst Meeting Portal website.

Link: http://amherstny.iqm2.com/citizens/

The work session starts at 4 pm, TB meeting 1 at 5 pm, and TB meetings 2 at 6 pm. That is quite an ambitious time schedule given the topics being discussed. Apparently they are planning on little or no discussions.

We recommend you look at both agendas, and for anything like “MOU“, or “Audubon“, or “Mensch” or “Westwood“.

If you view the YouTube video posted on the Supervisor’s re-election Facebook page you see why the July 6th Town Board meeting is important to you. It is when the Town Board will decide on a whether to approve a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between Mensch Capital Partners and the Town of Amherst on the land swap of a portion of the Audubon Recreational Complex (ARC) and Westwood.

We really have no idea what the Supervisor and his people are doing behind virtual/real closed doors with Mensch, but we MAY get a small glimpse of what they are willing to let the public know in the July 6th Town Board agenda.

Remember the Town Board currently says they are constrained to complete this MOU by July 10th, or Town Hall will become a pumpkin patch. But don’t hold your breath, they moved the goal posts before and they can do it again using their infamous use of the “Suspension of the Rules” to hide agenda items.

Resolution 2020-570: http://amherstny.iqm2.com/Citizens/Detail_LegiFile.aspx?Frame=&MeetingID=3744&MediaPosition=&ID=22067&CssClass=

What else is happening at the July 6th Special Town Board meeting (the second one that day)? The Town Board votes on the UBMD/Ciminelli rezoning of 14.97 acres at Audubon to allow private development there, a key element to the larger plan for something similar with Mensch for the remaining portion of the 93 acres the town originally alienated.

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SPECIAL Planning Board Meeting Thursday, June 25th at 6:30 PM

 

UPDATE June 25th:    Apparently the rezoning vote on June 18th will stand. A procedural problem with a previous Z-2020-04 vote on April 23rd requires another vote to rescind that action at the next Planning Board meeting on Aug 20th.


This is a rather unusual situation since the Planning Board met just last week. What’s going on here?

Agenda: http://amherstny.iqm2.com/citizens/FileOpen.aspx?Type=14&ID=2676&Inline=True

The Minutes of June 18th Planning Board haven’t yet been finalized, and somehow a Special Planning Board meeting has been scheduled in less than a week to reconsider a rezoning request that was unanimously voted down at that meeting.

REQUEST TO REZONE 0.39± ACRES FROM R-3 TO OB,
Z-2020-04 Property located at 21 Klein Road (835 Hopkins Road)
RJK Buffalo Properties LLC, Petitioner

Call-In Instructions: 1-646-558-8656
Meeting ID: 842 7493 5505
Password: 743990

For those who would like to see something different and educational, this is the meeting for you.

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Town Hall to Remain CLOSED for Months

Amherst Municipal Building
5583 Main Street Williamsville, NY 14221

At the June 18thy Planning Board meeting a resident asked when the Amherst Town Hall will reopen to the public. Deputy Supervisor Jacqui Berger Town Board liaison to the Planning Board can be clearly heard stating it is going to months before the public would be allowed into Town Hall for public hearings.

Click on the left arrow below to hear a statement by Jacqui Berger about how long the Town Hall will be CLOSED to the public.

The State of Emergency as declared by Supervisor Kulpa has officially ended as of May 15th, and public meetings of up 25 people are now permitted by New York State, so where is this new restriction on public gatherings coming from?

Link: http://www.amherst.ny.us/pdf/supervisor/executive_orders/200427_2020_extension.pdf

Neither the Supervisor nor the Town Board has as yet made any official statement or town law imposing restrictions on public gatherings at Town Hall greater than that allowed by New York State law.

This decision needs to be debated and voted on in an open public meeting by the entire Town Board with public expression, and not just to prohibit all future in-person public meetings indefinitely without at least open public discussion about it.

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WESTWOOD..SWAP OR SWINDLE??

Source: Z-2020-05_500 Maple Rd_052120_Drawings

By Judy Ferraro

A concern for many has always been, and remains of utmost importance, is keeping all of Amherst residents informed as to what a land exchange would be to acquire Westwood. Of equal importance is preserving as much green space, as possible, both on Westwood and the Audubon and protecting surrounding neighborhoods from punitive development.

Apparently, during the world-wide pandemic, while everyone was preoccupied with it, our town was working diligently to put forth the latest iteration and moving the process along swiftly. There was little or no information available to the public. Input from those trying to follow was complicated or ignored.

Now, at the 11th hour, still in a world-wide pandemic, there is a zoom meeting to rezone the people’s parkland to approve something most know nothing about. A medical office building larger than most Super Walmarts with parking for 1000 cars, including a four-story parking ramp.

The disposition of Westwood has been in the public realm since 2012. It is the single most important community project in decades. The solution to the dilemma, therefore, requires public engagement with all information available before any rezoning should be permitted. Covid-19 and a willingness to conduct public hearings without public participation because of it, is unconscionable and shocking.

This proposal is not the solution to making Westwood a park. It is basically what Dr. Weinstein rejected in 2012/13, for good reason.

Westwood and the people’s Audubon parkland development is too critical an endeavor to be moving forward in darkness. There must be other and better solutions.

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Public Participation at Town Board Meeting on Monday June 22nd at 4:30 pm

 

Amherst Municipal Building
5583 Main Street Williamsville, NY 14221

The next regular Town Board meeting on Monday,  June 22nd at 4:30pm will be the first meeting since the March 9th meeting where the public will be allowed to participate, albeit virtually via Zoom video conferencing application or their phone.

Zoom Meeting Login: Visual/Display Online https://us02web.zoom.us/j/85162861202?pwd=aXEwRXd3dHFpU0JSd3ZqZHJXZTQxQT09

Audio/Call-In Instructions: Note to callers your phone number will display to the public, to conceal your number enter *67 before you enter the phone number. 1-929-205-6099,

** CORRECTED **
Meeting ID: 813 4110 3660
Password: 646998

The last SIX regular Town Board meetings were restricted to only the Town Clerk’s office, Town Attorney, certain town staff,  and the Town Councilmembers. Normally the public is allowed to express any of their opinions and concerns on any town related issue at a Town Board meeting.  But the Supervisor decided that due to the COVID-19 pandemic, public participation was just too risky, even using Zoom.

Special Note: The 4 pm public Work Session does not have its own Zoom meeting ID or password, so try to join the regular Town Board Zoom meeting at 4pm.  Public participation has never been allowed at a Town Board work session so this may not work.

Link: http://amherstny.iqm2.com/citizens/FileOpen.aspx?Type=14&ID=2673&Inline=True

 

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