Weekly Feature

2016-04-06 / Front Page

Plan to buy Glen Oak killed

by KEATON T. DEPRIEST Associate Editor

The town will no longer be pursuing a proposal to purchase Glen Oak Golf Course, a transaction that was estimated to cost $4.6 million.

The proposal, first detailed by Supervisor Barry Weinstein in November, also called for 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.

Weinstein’s idea was to sell the land off Audubon Golf Course and use the money to pay for Glen Oak.

However, at the start of Monday’s Town Board meeting, the supervisor said the possible transactions are “no longer doable in the timeframe that was originally proposed.”

He said the alienation of the property near Millersport Highway would have been subject to approval by the state Legislature and the governor.

“The alienation is not moving forward,” he said. “I do not want to waste money on appraisals and due diligence for a project that has become controversial. I don’t want to waste everyone’s time and energy on a project that is eventually doomed.”

Also stopped as a result of the supervisor’s decision would be the potential for extra revenue from the Audubon property transaction that Weinstein suggested could have been used to acquire all or part of the former Westwood Country Club, which is now owned by Mensch Capital Partners. In November, Weinstein said the goal would be for the property to become a state park.

“It’s disappointing because it’s a good series of proposals,” Weinstein said. “Unfortunately, it has become very controversial.”

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.

Weinstein said the funding that was previously earmarked for the multiple transaction proposal will now be used to pay a legal judgment recently issued against the town.

The New York State Court of Appeals in March dismissed Amherst’s appeal in a case between the town and Acquest Wehrle LLC that dates back to 2006. As part of the appellate decision, the town must pay Acquest $3.94 million.

Acquest brought suit against Amherst after town officials 10 years ago terminated the firm’s planned office park project on Wehrle Drive. The Court of Appeals in its decision ruled the termination unconstitutional.

The supervisor also said he wanted to be realistic about the plan and with the possible Glen Oak purchase costing more than $4 million and Acquest’s judgment costing nearly $4 million with about $1,000 in interest accruing each day, he couldn’t justify all of the spending to taxpayers.

He said town officials may look into a structured settlement with Acquest.

“The bottom line is the proposal needed a better financial environment,” Weinstein said.

He added that a special Town Board meeting with the sole purpose of publicly discussing the Acquest litigation will be held at 5 p.m. Monday, April 11, in the Council Chambers at the Amherst Municipal Building, 5583 Main St., Williamsville.

Also at Monday’s meeting, the board in a 4-1 vote restricted parking on the west side of Campus Drive between Sheridan Drive and Campus Drive West during the hours of 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays.

A proposed second part of the resolution, which would have restricted parking on a portion of the west side of Campus Drive North, was deleted following a 4-1 board approval.

The next Town Board meeting will be held at 7 p.m. Monday, April 18, at the Municipal Building.

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