Town of Amherst to Create a NEW “Economic Development” Department

What is this NEW Department of “Economic Development” and why do WE need it? What ever it is or what ever it does, it will be located in Town Hall just across from the Supervisor’s office, and apparently will be reporting to him after a the new local law is added to create it. The first public hearing about this new department will be held at the next Town Board meeting on Monday, February 24.

Link to Town Board Agenda: http://amherstny.iqm2.com/Citizens/Detail_LegiFile.aspx?Frame=&MeetingID=3610&MediaPosition=&ID=21633&CssClass=

To understand what is happening here, it is useful to understand that Amherst town government has many different parts where the supervisor leads both the legislative branch as chairman of the Town Board, and the executive branch as chief executive officer of the town. With the exception of the Police Department, Highway Department, and Town Clerk, the supervisor directly manages the operation of rest of town government structured as a collection of different departments.

So adding a new department is a big deal since it increases the operational complexity of government, extends the supervisor’s executive management control, can be expected to increase the town payroll permanently, and hopefully will produce real and measurable benefits.

We have some questions for the supervisor. Why is this NEW department needed, what will it do, what will it cost, who will run it, how will it be structured, how many people will it employ, will it get bigger, how will it interact with other departments, will they be doing new things or restructuring existing things or both, and how can we measure it’s results in order to justify the reasons given for creating it?

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Letter to the Editor: NFTA Light Rail Project Benched For Now

Your Two CentsFebruary 18, 2020

Amherst Times
Letters to the Editor

Dear Letters Editor:

There is bad news from Washington concerning the federal support for the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority’s proposed $1.4 billion Amherst Light Rail Extension project. According to the Federal Transit Administration New Starts Report for the upcoming Federal Fiscal Year 2021 (October 1, 2020 – September,30, 2021) released last week, the proposed NFTA $1.4 billion (or $1.2 billion if you believe their anticipated savings by reducing some tunneling work), the NFTA’s Amherst Light Rail project was not listed as a new project being admitted into the FTA New Starts Program under the first step known as “Project Development.

Not being admitted into the Federal Transit Administration New Starts Program is disappointing news for the NFTA. This represents a significant set back in their long range goal of obtaining federal funding. The NFTA has been in discussion with the FTA for several years in attempting to be admitted into the New Starts program.

This represents a potential delay of up to one more year for advancement of the project. As each year goes by, project costs tend to increase. Any excuse for justification of this delay is the equivalent of putting lipstick on a pig. You can’t win a federal grant from the FTA if you haven’t been admitted into the New Starts Program.

It is like a baseball player on the bench (NFTA) waiting for the coach (FTA) to put him in the line up (admitted to the New Starts Program), advancing to the on deck circle, waiting for his turn at bat (admitted to final design and engineering), stepping up to home plate hoping for a hit (negotiating a Full Funding Grant Agreement) and getting a hit (scoring a Full Funding Grant Agreement) and scoring a run (completing construction of the project and placing it in revenue service.) How do you get a hit and score a run if you aren’t even in the game?

The NFTA continues to offer overly optimistic hopes to project advocates, commuters,taxpayers and elected officials for promising to be successful in obtaining federal funding for this project.

The odds are growing slim for the NFTA to win any Full Funding Grant Agreement from FTA for this project on or before 2025 based upon what should be disappointing news for local supporters of this project.

Sincerely,

Larry Penner

(Larry Penner — transportation historian, advocate and writer who worked for the US Department of Transportation Federal Transit Administration Region 2 NY Office for 31 years. This included review & approval of NFTA capital and operating assistance grants, followed by project oversight for FTA funded NFTA capital projects and programs from 1984 – 2014 to insure compliance with applicable federal rules and regulations, completion on time, within budget accompanied by a minimum number of contract change orders.)

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Pushing the Envelope

This year Amherst property owners received something a little different with their tax bill—return envelopes with a former Town Clerk’s name haphazardly blacked out. Both eco-friendly and cost saving, use of the old administration’s envelopes was the right thing to do.

However, it raises the question: Why are tax payers made to foot the bill for thousands of personalized envelopes for every newly elected Town Clerk? Our tax payments have safely arrived at the Clerk’s Office these past few weeks without a politician’s name on the top line to guide them—proof that the personalized, vanity envelopes we’ve all become accustomed to are in fact not critical to successfully fulfilling the tax collection duties of that office.

This act of publicly subsidized electioneering is completely unnecessary and should come to an end.

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Legacy Candidate Déjà Vu

Ed Rath III, is the grandson Ed Rath, Erie County’s first County Executive, son of Ed Rath Jr, a State Supreme Court judge and Mary Lou Rath, former County Legislator and NYS Senator.

Ed Rath III currently occupies a seat on the County Legislature formerly occupied by his mother and has announced his candidacy to fill her former seat in the NYS 61st Senate District. Can you say legacy candidate?

Since it is appropriate to evaluate new candidates on their vision and existing elected officials on their record, the AmherstTimes Editorial Board has compiled Ed Rath III’s record of accomplishment for his twelve-year tenure on the County Legislature via the detailed graphic below for your edification.

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Comment from a Concerned Citizen

If what Michele is saying is true, this whole charade is truly an outrage. Either Kulpa is naive or he believes the rest of us are. The cemetery was proposed by Mensch during the original land swap with Westwood. Weinstein refused to play their game mostly because of the lopsided value of the people’s parkland, versus Westwood’s. It appears what we have here is the Mensch swap by stealth, bit by bit to get all of the Audubon. Kulpa already finagled 93 acres of parkland using Westwood as the single reason. He initially wanted 240 acres. Now, he’s going back for more parkland to transfer to a for-profit corporation? What else will emerge down the pike to get more parkland? After all, it is still shy of 240.

The parkland spoils being divided and Westwood still not in hand would indicate a giant con job on the people. Kulpa with his selected employees were to be different from the past. Sadly, they are. They are not merely tools of these developers, they are their agents. And, we’re paying for it.

Looks like Mensch gets the “mulligan” and the town’s people get shafted.

This comment was originally submitted on February 14, 2020 in response to Town of Amherst Asks for a Mulligan.

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Local Website Edited After Smoke Reported

A website was edited sometime in the past twelve hours in the Town of Amherst, according to Amherst Pants On Fire Control.

The Candidate, or more likely her campaign manager, responded to our post about resume inflation at bergerforsenate.com sometime after 7:30am EST Friday morning after being alerted to the blaze in progress on the AmherstTimes website.

Source: bergerforsenate.com – 2.15.2020

Readers of this blog reported signs of the missing sentence as suggested by traces of excess punctuation left behind by what authorities suspect was a hasty deletion.

No other typos were reported.

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Stretch Pants On Fire!

NYS Town Law allows for the appointment of a Deputy Supervisor by the Supervisor to serve at his or her pleasure. This means that any such appointment is a “receive and file” item and serves to notify the Town Board of the Supervisor’s decision. The Town Board has no role in this appointment. Under section 42 of NYS Town Law, this is the exclusive jurisdiction of the Supervisor.

Source: bergerforsenate.com

So, reconcile Town Law and Town Board Resolution 2020-1 with the above resume inflation, and decide for yourself if you smell smoke.

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Big Buildings Coming Soon to Your Neighborhood – Benderson Edition

Fittingly the former Friendly’s Restaurant on Sweet Home and Maple is

about to become very un-friendly with a proposed 6-story hotel working

its way thru town approvals. Site plan approval for this “friendly hotel”

is on the Planning Board agenda for its next meeting on Feb 20 at 6:30 at

Town Hall.

 

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Town of Amherst Asks for a Mulligan

Long rumored to be an Indian burial ground but now acknowledged as a relocated Potters Field, Amherst residents are about to get a brand new cemetery on the Audubon Golf Course. It is a reasonable solution to the shabby treatment of the remains of the poor.

And, as opposed to “Amherst is operating a cemetery”, the truth is that Amherst is allowing customers to golf in a cemetery. Maybe it would be wise to close the affected holes this golfing season.

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Have Your Voice Heard | NFTA-Metro Rail Expansion

NFTA Metro Rail Expansion Draft EIS

Comment Period Now Open +

February 2020 Public Hearings in Amherst

On January, 23, 2020, the NFTA-Metro published their Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the Metro Rail Expansion into Amherst.

The Draft EIS’ publication initiated a 60-day public comment period. The public comment period for the Draft EIS will be open until March 24, 2020. Comments may be submitted on the NFTA-Metro website using their comment form, by email to railx@nfta.com, by mail, or in person at a public hearing.

During the comment period, NFTA will be conducting two public hearings.

  • Tuesday, February 25, 2020 @ 5:00 PM at Sweet Home Middle School, 4150 Maple Road, Amherst, New York 14226
  • Wednesday, February 26, 2020, @ 1:00 PM at The Screening Room at Boulevard Mall, 880 Alberta Drive, Amherst, New York 14226

The Draft EIS assesses the potential environmental effects that would result from the Proposed Action.

NFTA-Metro Rail Expansion Website: https://www.nftametrorailexpansion.com/

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