Weekly Feature

2016-01-13 / Front Page

Village seeks input on Westwood site

by ANNA WALTERS Reporter

Kulpa Kulpa The Village of Williamsville’s priority to redevelop existing parcels rather than “greenfield” sites has led to an interest in the proposed plan for the Westwood Country Club property.

In July 2014, Mensch Capital Partners submitted its official plans to the Town of Amherst for a $238 million redevelopment of the former Westwood Country Club property. The site is located at 772 N. Forest Road near Sheridan Drive.

According to the firm’s officials, design plans feature pedestrian friendly, mixed-use development patterns combining residential homes and a senior living facility with shops and restaurants.

Nearly 40 percent of the overall acreage would be dedicated to public green and open space, featuring recreational areas for pedestrians and bicycling trails.

As an interested agency, the Village of Williamsville has monitored the plans and will be speaking about its projected impacts — in relation to the environment and traffic movement — at the State of the Village address.

The address will be held at 7:30 p.m. Monday, Feb. 22, at the Meeting

House, 5658 Main St., Williamsville.

Williamsville Mayor Brian Kulpa and Deputy Mayor Chris Duquin expressed their concerns about the proposed project in a letter to Amherst Supervisor Barry Weinstein. The letter was received by the Supervisor’s Office on Dec. 23.

“The transportation corridors in and immediately surrounding the Village of Williamsville are not equipped to handle the density of development that is proposed,” the letter stated.

According to the letter, officials believe the proposed project would overburden the transportation infrastructure in the Sheridan Drive, North Forest and Union Road corridors. Officials also noted that it would push more traffic into the village and onto Main Street.

Since the village controls the dam at Island Park, officials are also concerned about the proposed project’s environmental impact. The concern centers on storm-water runoff.

“We are very concerned that the development as currently proposed will shed substantially more water into Ellicott Creek via runoff,” the letter stated. “The impact both up and down stream from the proposed development could be severe enough if not properly mitigated to constitute a serious negative environmental impact.”

The Westwood golf course currently does a good job absorbing much of the storm water, officials noted.

Kulpa believes the village deserves a greater role in matters that are taken before the Amherst Industrial Development Agency. There is currently no representation from the village on the AIDA board.

He noted that the agency and developers who seek its assistance should focus on key areas that support the redevelopment of existing parcels.

Kulpa gave an example of the vacant parcel at the corner of Main Street and Garrison Road.

“We need to be proactive in assisting good redevelopment in our traditional community centers and avoid aiding development detrimental to our aspirations for the village and town,” Kulpa said in a prepared statement.

“Further, as the village is subject to I.D.A. abatements, we need a voice at the table,” he said in the statement. “It is time to appoint a representative of the village to the I.D.A. Board.”

Other matters to be discussed at the State of the Village address include building repairs at the Meeting House, located at 5658 Main St.; the construction management of projects on East Spring Street; and this year’s tax cap of 0.12 percent.

email: awalters@beenews.com

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