Weekly Feature

2015-11-18 / Front Page

Supervisor details proposal for Glen Oak purchase

by KEATON T. DEPRIEST Associate Editor

By the end of 2016, the town may be the owner of a new golf course.

(See editorial on page four)

Supervisor Barry Weinstein on Monday detailed a proposal that could lead to the purchase of Glen Oak Golf Course for approximately $4.6 million.

Glen Oak is located at 711 Smith Road off Millersport Highway. Weinstein said that until recently, he and the course’s owners had been informally discussing the possibility of the town purchasing the property.

According to his plan, Weinstein said the cost of the transaction could be paid for by reconfiguring Audubon Golf Course and selling — for the purposes of development — approximately 25 to 75 acres of land adjacent to Millersport Highway and the University at Buffalo.

He said the Assessor’s Office estimates that the property could be worth up to $200,000 per acre.

“The revenue would pay for the Glen Oak Golf Course, and any excess would be put into a trust and agency account,” Weinstein said.

To reduce annual revenue losses, the Town Board in 2014 approved privatizing its management of its three existing golf courses: Audubon Golf Course at 500 Maple Road, Audubon Par 3 at 475 Maple Road, and Oakwood at 3575 Tonawanda Creek Road.

In March, the Town Board authorized a license agreement with Value Golf LLC, which is the company that manages the three courses.

Weinstein said if the town moves forward in purchasing Glen Oak, the management of the property’s golf course and banquet facility would be put out to bid by the town — similar to the process of how the town entered an agreement with Value Golf.

“Our most recent initiative, the privatization or outsourcing of our golf operation, has improved the golf course, according to the people [who] play Audubon and Oakwood.”

The supervisor said purchasing Glen Oak could allow the town to provide a “superior golf experience for residents” while also allowing the town to correct drainage issues for neighboring property owners.

“Amherst would need appraisals, due diligence, contract negotiations, short-term bonding, negotiations with UB and another golf course request for proposal,” Weinstein said.

He said the alienation of the property near Millersport Highway would be subject to approval by the state Legislature and the governor, adding that the development potential on the lot could provide “substantial revenue.”

Weinstein said some of the extra revenue from the Audubon property transaction could potentially be used to acquire all or part of the former Westwood Country Club, which is now owned by Mensch Capital Partners. He said the goal would be for the property to become a state park.

In July 2014, Mensch submitted plans to the town for a $238 million redevelopment of the property, which is located at 772 N. Forest Road near Sheridan Drive. Mensch is seeking to construct a mixed-use neighborhood that would include residential, retail, senior living and green-space areas.

While the town is currently reviewing Mensch’s revised draft generic environmental impact statement for the property, the town has also sent a letter to the company regarding a possible acquisition of the property. Weinstein said the correspondence suggested to Mensch that the company and the town jointly seek state funding to purchase the site.

Additionally, the supervisor said the revenue from the Audubon property could also be used to acquire the site of the former gun club on Maple Road. He said the land could be used for a possible expansion of the Northtown Center’s athletic complex on Amherst Manor Drive.

In a timeline estimate, Weinstein said the contract of sale for the Glen Oak property would be reviewed for a Town Board vote in May or June 2016, with the real estate transaction becoming final by the end of the year.

Following Weinstein’s presentation, the council briefly discussed the proposal.

“If the plan goes through as you said, it could solve a lot of issues for the town,” Council Member Mark Manna said, adding that to acquire some of the Westwood property would be the “jewel of the crown” for the town.

Council Member Ramona Popowich said she supported Weinstein’s proposal, while Council Member Steven Sanders said the overall concept was “intriguing.”

Deputy Supervisor Guy Marlette questioned Weinstein about whether a State Environmental Quality Review would be needed prior to the Glen Oak purchase. Weinstein said it most likely would not be necessary to have a SEQR completed because when the sale is finalized, the town will still use the property as a golf course. The supervisor said the review would not be needed because the property’s use would not be altered.

“That is something I will be looking into, though,” Weinstein said. “This is just the beginning of everything.”

email: kdepriest@beenews.com

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