Weekly Feature

2016-04-06 / Letters to the Editor

Westwood plan now focuses on site cleanup

Conversation about the future of the former Westwood Country Club now focuses on site cleanup.

Mensch Capital has proposed an innovative, $238 million plan for Westwood: a walkable, sustainable, traditional neighborhood in the heart of Amherst.

In 2014, the Erie County Health Department recommended a study of the fertilizer and chemicals applied to the fairways and greens. Soil tests revealed traces of arsenic, with concentrations often exceeding state Department of Environmental Conservation soil cleanup objectives for residential, commercial or industrial uses.

Mensch then applied to and was accepted into NYSDEC’s Brownfield Cleanup Program.

A full spectrum of follow up testing in select locations confirmed the presence of arsenic and a number of metals not previously detected in the initial testing: cadmium, chromium, copper, mercury, lead and zinc, consistent with the historic use of pesticides, fungicides and herbicides that were regularly applied by the former country club and in keeping with then generally industry accepted golf course maintenance protocols.

These new soil test results further underscore the importance of developing and implementing a cleanup and remediation plan in cooperation with NYSDEC that meets or exceeds its stringent standards for residential and/or recreational uses of the site.

By NYSDEC guidelines, the site in its current condition is unacceptable for any use, including residential or recreation uses. The only economically feasible way to remediate the contamination and clean up the site for future reuse, whether as a park or any residential or commercial uses, will require the town to provide Mensch development rights for some or all of the site.

Remediation and cleanup of the Westwood site will result in a “clean” site certified by NYSDEC. This will have a positive impact on neighborhood property values and enable the site to enhance the tax base of the town, county and school district.

We will continue to make progress on the site investigation phase and are happy to clean the site as part of a development plan, but if we cannot reach a compromise on development of Westwood, we cannot otherwise fund cleanup of the site.

Andrew J. Shaevel
Managing partner
Mensch Capital Partners

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