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Amherst Takes Next Step for Westwood Development

"We've come to a point where we have to do something."

May 21, 2019 - 3:25 am

AMHERST (WBEN) - It's been about a decade-long ordeal regarding the Westwood Country Club, and on Monday night, the Amherst Town Board perhaps took a tangible step forward.

The Board voted unanimously to alienate an area of parkland, known as the Audubon Recreational Complex, with the overall hope of turning the site into a park - something residents have been clamoring for.

Aside from a few golfers who showed up to the nearly packed hearing, most were very much in favor of the move.

"Right now, we're the closest we've every been," said Nathan Hartrich of the Morningside Home Owners Association. "Honestly, it's tough to say you trust a politician because people because politicians are out for themselves or whatever, but that's not true here. I think that finally we're getting to a spot where the town and the residents agree on something, and that's putting a park at Westwood."

Hartrich added that there is an element of risk involved with this sort of maneuver.

"Alienation is kind of scary because you're taking a large piece of property and saying that you're going to make decisions later on it," he said. "That's where trust comes in. Right now, we have to trust that the people that we elected are going to make the decisions that we would want them to make as residents in Amherst."

Listen to the full conversation with Hartrich below:

Chris Drongosky is a former recreation commissioner for the town, and says that this was a much needed move despite the risk.

"We've come to a point where we have to do something," he began. "None of us know where this is going to end; we know in nine months that we may have an answer, but we have to start."

Listen to the full conversation with Drongosky below:

The plans are to designate much of the property as a park, and possibly to even include a sports facility and an indoor field house.

"I have small children, and I take them places so that they can get experiences," said Hartrich. "Why can't we have something like that in Amherst? Something that people can come and say 'Hey, I was in Amherst, New York, and we went to this park, and it was amazing.'...that's what we're looking for, and we're getting so close that I think at some point we have to trust our government to work on behalf of us, which they are."

The decision will now go before the State Legislature for approval and then will need to be signed by Governor Cuomo. Town Supervisor Brian Kulpa hopes to move forward on the projects starting next year.
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