Weekly Feature

2014-08-27 / Front Page

Town receives state grant initiated 20 years ago

by KEATON T. DEPRIEST Associate Editor

In attempting to collect nearly $350,000 in state reimbursement for a recent open-space acquisition, the Town of Amherst was notified it had an active, yet unfulfilled, 20-year-old grant worth $206,000 through the state Parks Department.

Supervisor Barry Weinstein said that in 1994, Amherst installed the Ellicott Creek Bicycle Trail, a portion of which extends through the University at Buffalo. He said Amherst was never reimbursed for the UB portion because it did not have an ownership interest.

Weinstein said the open grant was not discovered by the town until it recently sought funding for the open-space acquisition. Weinstein said the main issue preventing the bicycle trail grant from being realized was there was no designation of ownership for the trail.

“My administration didn’t know anything about this until they wouldn’t pay us the $347,000,” Weinstein said.

He said that by working with UB officials and with state Sen. Michael H. Ranzenhofer, a concurrent-use permit was negotiated and approved in Albany, allowing Amherst to take ownership of the Ellicott Creek trail.

“Sen. Ranzenhofer personally intervened on behalf of Amherst,” Weinstein said. “His office was instrumental in getting this done.”

Also during the process, the state notified the town of a 20-year-old parkland designation for the property near North Amherst Fire Hall, 2200 Tonawanda Creek Road near Campbell Boulevard, that had to be reclassified.

“To solve the parkland designation issue, Amherst went through an alienation process,” Weinstein said. “It transferred the designation to another site with the approval of the state Assembly, Senate and the governor.”

Weinstein added that correcting the issues allowed the town to collect last week the $206,000 for the bike trail grant. He said the money will be deposited into the general fund and would be used either for park improvements or to “offset expenses if needed.”

“It benefits taxpayers by being in the general fund,” Weinstein added.

The next Town Board meeting will be held at 7 p.m. Monday, Sept. 8, in the Council Chambers of the Amherst Municipal Building, 5583 Main St., Williamsville.

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