Amherst, Kwik Fill Battling over Vacant Parcel

Town granted eminent domain to take over property for a park

Tom Puckett
July 10, 2019 - 6:51 pm
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Amherst, NY (WBEN) Years after the Kwik Fill gas station was torn down at the corner of Kenmore Avenue and Niagara Falls Boulevard, the property has remained vacant, and a recent showdown over eminent domain has infuriated the property owner.

20 years ago, the town of Amherst took some of that property for road expansion. "We cooperated, and then we closed it, and paid taxes ever since," says John Catsimatidis, owner of United Refining. Since then, all you see are concrete barriers surrounding the parcel. He says because of that, the town had no right trying to take the land away. "We tried to get a meeting with the supervisor, and the supervisor refused to meet. Next thing you know, there's a lawsuit against us to steal our property after being taxpayers for the last 40 years. It rubbed me the wrong way," explains Catsimitidis.

Amherst Town Supervisor Brian Kulpa denies not wanting to meet with Catsimitidis. "We reached out to United Refining to have a conversation with them. We had a public use that we thought was a good idea. They didn't have the appetite for talking constructively about town ownership nor did anyone reveal plans for redevelopment," says Kulpa. Kulpa's plan calls for a gateway park, with other properties the town has already bought. "Some place that starts to tell people Amherst is changing," he says.

Kulpa says the town sought to acquire the property through eminent domain. The court heard a challenge from United Refining, but ruled in favor of Amherst. Kulpa says he's now negotiating a purchase price. "Unfortunately, it's caused more problems to surrounding properties regarding property values than it had added benefits," says Kulpa.

Catsimatidis says he's through with Amherst. "That whole Buffalo area needs more investment, and if we have politicians in that way, I think it chases away businesses," says Catsimatidis. "We will not invest in Amherst."  The New York billionaire vows to never create another job in the Amherst area again.

Kulpa thinks it's more than just about that parcel. "I would think if you're going to make a bold statement, there's something more at play than just your investment in Amherst because Amherst is one of many municipalities," says Kulpa.

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