Category “Westwood”

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On Thursday, Sept 17th the Planning Board approved a new yet unpublished site plan it received in the past few days so that this project can proceed to the construction phase by mid November 2020.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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Planning Board meeting on Zoom

Planning Board Meeting on Zoom – {Meeting ID: 829 0760 9647} {Passcode: 298570}

The Amherst Planning Board meets today Sept 17, 2020. So why start the Planning Board Zoom meeting at 5:30 pm when it “OFFICIALLY” starts  at 6:30 pm? Is the Planning Board going to meet in secret at 5:30 pm? If the public attempts to login to the Planning Board meeting at 5:30 pm, will they be prevented from doing so?

Also the difficult to find and sparely attended for the public work session starts at 6 pm. The 6 pm “public” work session was the time the Planning Board used to discuss each item on the agenda. and get advise from the Amherst Planning Department about them . Effectively it was a private meeting the Planning Board enjoyed until eventually a few people discovered this, and started attending this meeting.

Public trust of the Planning Board is crucial, and if there is a secret portion of the Planning Board meeting where they discuss any items on the agenda, that trust would be lost.

Agenda: http://amherstny.iqm2.com/Citizens/Detail_Meeting.aspx?ID=3628

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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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“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?

Comments (9)

Residents Should Learn About Westwood/Audubon Deal


Commentary from a Concerned Citizen


As a concerned town resident regarding developments relating to the town’s potential acquisition of Westwood Country Club, in exchange for town property located at the Audubon golf course and the North Town Center recreational facility I am writing to urge Amherst residents to make an effort to understand all aspects of this project and make your views and concerns known to your elected officials long before this project has been negotiated and demand answers before this project is formally brought before town residents for the required hearing prior to a formal approval by this town board. If you wait until then to voice your concerns at that point this will be a done deal. A hearing of this type 99% of the time is just a necessary ordeal to be endured by the politicians’ before approval is granted, especially when all town board members are from the same political party. It will be imperative for all town residents to have an understanding not only of all the wonderful things this town board plans on being included in this project, but a firm estimate of the costs to be incurred for each project and where the revenue is going to come from initially and on an ongoing basis.

Town residents should keep in mind that this project as currently envisioned will be trans-formative in scope and forever change the landscape of our town. If we get this wrong we will be paying for years to come and long after our current elected officials will have left or have been voted out of office.

In a perfect world who would not want another beautiful park located in the geographical center of Amherst. However, before this park becomes a reality I ask everyone, especially our elected officials, to keep in mind when we are bartering away our town assets two things: 1) The town board did not go to the Mensch Capital group looking for a deal. Mensch Capital, looking for a way out of what was a bad deal that they made, came to the town for relief. 2) What the town currently has by way of green space and recreational activities has served the town well. In short we are not in desperate need to make this deal unless it benefits the town every bit as much as the developers. Also, the recent involvement of, “Bones and Guts who hope to benefit not only themselves but wealthy medical professionals who can well afford to anti-up and still come out well ahead should not be allowed to clean up on the backs of the town residents. As it is, all developers and recipients of their activities will clean up on the back end when our Amherst I.D.A. does its stuff. Then there is the numerous state credits, etc. Bottom line, when all the cards are shuffled and dealt the town better end up on the plus side economically after offsetting the cost to bring this project into fruition and let us not forget what all this will cost the town over time in increased additional employees, payroll taxes, pensions, maintenance, etc. on an on-going basis.

Final thought Mister and Mrs. Amherst: Do not blow this project off and ignore the details as this is one project once approved that we will not be able to undue.

Comments (8)

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 (21)

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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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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