Category “Local News”

MusicalFare promised the use of NEW Theater Building

http://www.theatreallianceofbuffalo.com/theatres/musicalfare-theatre/

The Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between MusicalFare and the Town of Amherst appears to ensure the Town of Amherst will build a theater facility for their use even if the effort to acquire the Westwood property from Mensch Capital Partners fails. The details are contained in the MOU document attached to Resolution 2020-797 Memorandum of Understanding with Musical Fare (CRS #2198) at the link labelled (MusicalfareMOU-09292020120504).

The Town of Amherst has apparently assured MusicalFare that a new theater structure will be built at the Audubon Recreational Facility (“Option 2”)  if the originally targeted site on the Westwood property (“Option 1”) is not possible. Since commercial development has already started on the alienated portion of the Audubon Recreational Complex before the Town of Amherst has acquired the Westwood property, this should not surprise anyone.

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Amherst Central Park Design Workshop with Stakeholders

If you have a spare hour or so, and really want to know what has been done as of July 2nd on the possible design of the Amherst Central Park, then we have a video for you!

The Town of Amherst website contains a web page dedicated to the Amherst Central Park Project including a Youtube video and other information.

Here is an excerpt for this web page ….

“Dover, Kohl & Partners led a series of workshop meetings held the week of June 29th to July 2nd. The plans and video show the progress of this work presented to the Town Board on July 2nd. These ideas are currently being reviewed by the Amherst Central Park Task Force.”

CAUTION: Click on the image to view the hour long.Youtube video.

You be the judge on how open and transparent this project has been to the public. This video has not been widely promoted for public attention and the list of stakeholders who attended is not available. You can glean many of these stakeholders from the video, but need to work on it.

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When is something seemingly MINOR really something really MAJOR?

Amherst Municipal Building / Amherst Town Hall

Making changes to the Amherst Code of Ethics really should not be all that exciting, and most people would probably assume they would be necessary and not bother reading them. But it’s not that simple, and should be read, especially if you are currently appointed to a town advisory committee or board.

DRAFT Code of Ethics: http://amherstny.iqm2.com/Citizens/FileOpen.aspx?Type=4&ID=15412&MeetingID=3757

The new Code of Ethics first floated at the March 9, 2020 Town Board meeting at the start of the COVID-19 virus pandemic was the last public hearing where people could attend in person. Here is the justification given for this major change to the Amherst Code of Ethics.

“The purpose of this Local Law shall be to amend various sections of Chapter 19 of the Code of the Town of Amherst with respect to the list of officials, notice and verification of filing.”

Link: http://amherstny.iqm2.com/Citizens/Detail_LegiFile.aspx?Frame=&MeetingID=3612&MediaPosition=&ID=21723&CssClass=

This justification sounds reasonable and probably any changes would be necessary and relatively straight forward. Well the old code was six (6) pages long, but the proposed new code is twenty two (22) pages long!

► It was adjourned from the March 9, 2020 Town Board meeting, and moved to the May 26, 2020 Town Board meeting.

► It was adjourned from the May 26, 2020 Town Board meeting , and moved to the August 3, 2020 to the Town Board meeting.

► It was adjourned from the August 3, 2020 Town Board meeting , and moved to the September 21, 2020 to the Town Board meeting.

No substantive reason has been ever given for any of these previous adjournments other than it didn’t seem to be the right time. And no changes have ever been made to the DRAFT Code of Ethics since it was first made public on March 9, 2020!


The Bottom Line

► On September 21, 2020, guess what, it has been adjourned again and moved to the Town Board reorganization meeting on January 2, 2021! No reason was given!

It looks like this resolution will be buried in the reorganization meeting where many more important things are happening.

The Board of Ethics is currently one person short at four(4)  (five is full membership). On 12/31/2020 two(2) more members will be at the end of there appointments giving the Town Board the ability to appoint three (3) new members or a majority of this board.

There will be a time in future posts to examine the problems with the DRAFT Code of Ethics, and we have until the end of the year to do it. Keep tuned!

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Planning Board Approves UBMD Site Plan

It looks like the 14.91 acres of the Audubon Recreational Complex the Town recently sold to the 111 North Maplemere LLC / Audubon Park MOB LLC/ UBMD / Ciminelli Real Estate (petitioner ) will have construction starting in record time. This deal appears to have been heavily expedited by the Town Supervisor/ Planning Department/Town Board so as to minimize the financial impact on UBMD (avoidance of capital gains tax).

On Thursday, Sept 17th the Planning Board approved a new yet unpublished site plan it received in the past few days so that this project can proceed to the construction phase by mid November 2020. The Town just sold this former recreational land on July 30, 2020, followed this by two ZBA variance request meetings and two Planning Board meetings in two months with construction starting only 4 months after sale.  Apparently nothing is going to slow down this deal.

The key change to the site plan was the lopping off of the 2nd story of the Surgery Center and Medical Office building design reducing it from 177,000 sq ft to 137,516 sq ft. There were some conditions added for the site plan approval, but frankly they will not slow things down.

  • Since the start of this process with the Comprehensive Plan and Rezoning changes, the first thing that jumps out at you is the blinding speed of this deal as demonstrated by the actions of the Town Supervisor/Town Board.
  • The second thing that jumps out at you is how heavily the Town Supervisor/Town Board sold us an extensive project that would greatly benefit the town, but delivered a minimal project with just a single story office building with a large ordinary parking lot taking up a big piece of valuable former recreational green space. What a waste!

The second biggest problem they do not want to admit to is the large potential negative traffic impacts, especially at the northern Millersport Hwy connection to North Maplemere, and the southern Maple Rd/North Maplemere connection. There are going to be a large number of unhappy town drivers after this project in completed, not to mention the residents of North Maplemere .

Link: http://amherstny.iqm2.com/Citizens/Detail_LegiFile.aspx?Frame=&MeetingID=3628&MediaPosition=&ID=22169&CssClass=

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Town Board Meeting Today, Tuesday Sept 8th

 

Amherst Municipal Building
5583 Main Street Williamsville, NY 14221

Due to the Labor Day Holiday on Monday, the Town Board meeting will be on Tuesday, Sept 8th at 7 pm.

The Work Session will be held at 4 pm, and that is when the Town Board actually discusses and votes on almost all of the agenda items with the exception of spending resolutions requiring a recorded vote. The 7 pm Town Board evening session will deal mostly with everything else such as public hearings, public expression, the consent agenda, spending resolutions, and communications.

Work session agenda:
http://amherstny.iqm2.com/Citizens/FileOpen.aspx?Type=14&ID=2698&Inline=True

Regular Town Board Agenda:
http://amherstny.iqm2.com/Citizens/FileOpen.aspx?Type=14&ID=2699&Inline=True

Examples of resolutions of significance this week include:

  1.  RES-2020-715 Request for Public Hearing – Local Law Creating Amherst Central Park Task Force
  2.  RES-2020-717 Request Public Hearing – Local Law to Amend Chapter 203, Small Cell Wireless
  3.  RES-2020-718 Non-Exclusive Shared Parking Agreement (CRS #2159)          (UBMD / 111 North Maplemere LLC / 500 Maple Rd/Audubon)

The Zoom meeting information can be found in the work session agenda and regular town board agenda respectively.

If you would like to access all the Town Board agenda resolutions in detail use the following link.
http://amherstny.iqm2.com/Citizens/Detail_Meeting.aspx?ID=3755

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14.91 Acres of Audubon Recreational Complex SOLD!

Deed to 14.91 Acres of the Audubon Recreational Complex

The 14.91 acres of the Audubon Recreational Complex needed to construct the 500 Maple Rd Surgery Center and Medical Office Building for UBMD is now owned by an entity called the 111 North Maplemere LLC.  Sale price was $2,982,000.00 and the deed was recorded by the Erie County Clerk on 07/30/2020.

On September 17, 2020 the Planning Board will review the detailed site plans in preparation for the construction of this “project’. Amherst must cooperate with the new owner in the demolition of all the sports related and other building infrastructure currently on this parcel.

  1. PROPOSED UBMD SURGERY CENTER & MEDICAL OFFICE BUILDING, SP-2020-09
    Property located at 500Maple Road (portion)
    Audubon Park MOB, LLC, Petitioner

The original New York State parkland alienation was for 93± acres of the Audubon Recreational Complex.  The Supervisor/Town Board asserted that 52.8 acres of this alienated parkland was available for a “deal” to acquire the Westwood property from the Mensch Capital Partners LLC, and that the 14.91 acres of the recently sold portion was part of this lesser amount.

Frankly we do not believe the Supervisor is even considering using just the remaining 38 acres as the maximum offer to Mensch for Westwood as stated in the MOU with Mensch. Even the MOU states that the “Town has agreed to transfer an adjoining parcel of land having an address of 1615 Amherst Manor Drive”. That is another 18.9 acres of the 93± acres increasing the potential land being offered to about 57 acres. We suspect when the smoke finally clears. and if the deal actually happens very close to 93± acres will be sold.

The not to attractive alternative is that no deal happens, Westwood is not acquired by the Town, and the 14.91 acres of the Audubon Recreational Complex now has a 177,0000 sq ft UBMD Surgery Center & Medical Office Building and surface parking lot in place of former sports and recreational area.

We await the “Definitive Agreement” called out in the MOU with Mensch supposedly on a maximum 6 calendar month time limit to find out what we finally end up with.

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Amherst Senior Center SOFT Reopening

Amherst Senior Center

Exactly what a “SOFT” reopening is, is explained in the September NETWORK newsletter available on the the Town of Amherst website.

An excerpt from this newsletter starts out …

“While New York State coronavirus public-health orders have become less restrictive, the Amherst Center for Senior Services will be softly reopening on Monday, September 21. (THIS DATE IS SUBJECT TO CHANGE-Please go to http://www.amherst.ny.us/content/departments.php?dept_id=dept_19 for our most current version).”

Here is a link to the entire September NETWORK newsletterhttp://www.amherst.ny.us/pdf/trackus/attachments/20091.pdf

For the past few months the Amherst Senior Center was not available for use by its intended demographic population of senior citizens. It made good sense to protect a medically vulnerable group of seniors from the dangers of the COVID-19 pandemic. If you intend to visit the Amherst Senior Center, please read the September NETWORK newsletter first.

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UBMD 4 story parking garage replaced by small parking lot

500 Maple Rd / UBMD / Variance Site Plan

When Supervisor Kulpa first described the proposed sale of a portion of the Audubon Recreational Complex at 500 Maple Rd to UBMD/Blood & Guts LLC / Audubon Park MOB LLC it featured two major structures,

(1)  a Surgery Center / Medical Office Building, and
(2)  a 4 story 350,000 sq. ft. parking garage.

Supervisor Kulpa “sold” this vision heavily (check any of his Power Point presentations on the subject) to promote the changes needed to the Bicentennial Comprehensive Plan and the rezoning to the 14.91 acres from RC to CF to make the sale possible. The 4 story parking garage was touted as a major element in making the future development of the remaining of the 53 acres of the alienated Audubon Recreation Complex possible.

The changes to the Bicentennial Comprehensive Plan and the rezoning to the 14.91 acres from RC to CF were passed by the Town Board, and this portion of the Audubon Recreational Complex was sold to Bone & Guts LLC.  Mission accomplished by Supervisor Kulpa!

But wait, big 4 story parking garages are expensive, very expensive, and why would UBMD / Bone & Guts LLC / Audubon Park MOB LLC build it? How could they justify the cost? It always raised a red flag in our minds,since it literally made no sense for them to build something they apparently didn’t need.

Well folks guess what, now that town land has been sold to a private developer, that big 4 story parking garage Supervisor Kulpa told us was such a major public benefit is no longer needed!

The variance site plan for 500 Maple Rd now shows a 170,000 sq. ft. Surgery Center / Medical Office building where the 4 story parking garage was on the original concept plan, and now ONLY a smaller than required parking lot needing several area variances by the ZBA is planned.

You can view the Aug 18th ZBA meeting on Zoom
Link:  http://amherstny.iqm2.com/citizens/FileOpen.aspx?Type=14&ID=2693&Inline=True

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“Green Light in Amherst”

We were having trouble deciding who wrote an editorial “Green Light in Amherst” in a local publication.

At first its amateurish pie-in-the-sky tone sounded typical, Wow, Amherst is getting Cricket AND Pickleball too!!

But eventually we realized it’s probably highlights from some powerpoint presentation Kulpa and/or Mensch (what’s the difference?) sent to the publication.

There is so much wrong with this piece of propaganda:

1. “The plan to transform more than 200 acres of prime real estate in Amherst cleared a key hurdle last week.”

We bet all of you Amherst Taxpayers, who wonder where your land and taxdollars went, didn’t know you were just “a hurdle” to be cleared. This disrespect tells me Kulpa/Mensch/Ciminelli, et al is behind this editorial.

2. “Indeed, it’s easy to see this development as part of a larger vision by Supervisor Brian Kulpa”

Right. The larger vision of Kulpa is to show that he plays nice with Big Money so that he can move on to Albany. He’ll probably brag that he did it all in a Pandemic without telling anyone the truth of what was going on.

3. “Developers are going to develop; the ventures on the Audubon property allow Mensch to profit from its investment.”

People of Amherst – It might be public land and taxpayer money but who are you to think you have any say in it? These are the masters of Amherst, they know better of what is good for the people, ignoring what they have repeatedly been told. We are just useful pawns to pay for their corruption. We are in Orwellian territory. Animal Farm and stifling voices. It is extraordinarily scary!

4. “but it wouldn’t make much sense for the Westwood property – which stretches near North Forest Road from Sheridan Drive to Maple Road – to remain vacant for another generation.”

Why not? What’s wrong with park land? What’s wrong with it remaining vacant for 10 generations? What’s wrong with keeping it a golf course?
Must all of Amherst be bulldozed and paved? Does Amherst need another Hotel, Office Building, or Parking Lot?

5. “ Growth and development are inevitable in Amherst, which once consisted largely of farmland.”

The old “Manifest Destiny” play: Concrete good, Farmland bad. Vacant land only exists to be turned into profits for Developers. That isn’t a field to walk your dog through, it’s a 4 story parking ramp. That isn’t a ball field, it’s the UBMD 250,000 sq ft building. You don’t want to play golf, you want virtual golf.

Finally, “ Not everyone will get what they want from the project”.
Well it sure looks like the Town Board & the Developers won and Amherst lost.

But why do the Developers always win? One reason is because they count on us being NIMBY’s (a name developers made up and always used to divide). Those close to Westwood/Audubon don’t much care about Transit Road and vice versa. And neither care about Amazon grabbing Grand Island land. What we need is a person or body of people who will coordinate against these attacks, get the big picture, and fight for the rights of residents and their healthy environment.

Sadly, we already have that “person or body of people.” They’re called the Town Board and Town Board Supervisor but instead of helping us they’re selling us out. And it’s the same all over Erie County where Big Money buys the influence of those who are supposed to be looking out for us.

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Do any of the 126,082 residents of Amherst really care …

06-17-2019 image of the 93 acres alienated at Audubon

The Town of Amherst has already sold off 15± acres of the Audubon Recreational Complex to UBMD / Bone&Guts LLC / Audubon Park MOB LLC during a COVID-19 pandemic with almost no explanation on how the UBMD part of the deal began and evolved (who offered what to who first), and

where public participation was actively discouraged,

where important parkland alienation related resolutions were placed on agendas at the last minute in suspension of the rules,

where the Supervisor sold his own vision extensively in the public media, radio stations, newspapers, TV stations,

where his messy, huge, wandering, and semi-incoherent Power Point presentations seemed to promise everything to everyone, and

where these same Power Point presentations produced so much sensory overload that they confused his audience more than informed them.

Does anyone really care about the details of  this potentially HUGE deal between the Town of Amherst  and the Mensch Capital Partners?

Does anyone really care about how much of the Audubon Recreational Complex,  currently a recreational green space, is acquired by the commercial developer in exchange for the Westwood property?

Does anyone really care how the land that Amherst “sells” at the Audubon Recreational Complex will be developed?

Does anyone really care how the land that Amherst “buys” at Westwood will be developed?

Does anyone really care how this deal will impact ALL of the residents of Amherst?

Does anyone really care about any potential current and long term financial impacts to the Town of Amherst from this deal?

Does anyone really care how this deal changes the future use of recreational green space in Amherst?

Does anyone really care how this deal could accelerate the commercialization of Maple Road?

Does anyone really care that our Supervisor and Town Board seemingly are content to make this ENTIRE deal within our virtual Town Hall with a minimum of two-way public participation and information sharing, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic?

Does anyone really care that our elected representatives are very dismissive of allowing active and ongoing public participation in the process of putting together the details of this deal?

Does anyone really care that that our elected representatives do not treat the public as valued stakeholders and partners in this deal, but just as “customers” or “disinterested observers”?

There are many many more important questions that need to be asked of the Supervisor and Town Board members that if the past is a guide, will never be answered by them. Does anyone really care?

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