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History of Amherst State Park News Archives


Buffalo News,   January 6, 1998  by Patrick Lakamp

       Amherst has a chance to buy at a bargain price about 100 acres of prime undeveloped land owned by the Sisters of St. Francis, a town official said Monday.

       Town officials have taken a tour of the property on the northern outskirts of Williamsville, talked to real estate agents and know how much it would cost to buy

       "The nuns have a figure in mind," said Town Attorney Phillip Thielman.

       He declined to discuss the asking price but described the amount as "doable."

       The price would be more than $1 million, a town official said. The town has assessed the parcel at almost $7.5 million.

       If Town Board members approve a deal, the order would keep about 30 acres and the town would buy nearly 100 acres, Thielman said.

       Board members are expected to decide within a week or so if they're interested in purchasing the land. A representative from the motherhouse could not be reached for comment.

       Developers would be willing to pay much more for the land, Thielman said.

       Some residents and government leaders would like to see the parcel at 400 Mill St., crossed by Ellicott Creek, become a park. Years ago, Erie County officials talked about using Ellicott Creek as a corridor to connect the town's park system, creating bike paths and hiking trails.

       A sprawling 132,000-square-foot motherhouse would be part of the deal, and some have suggested it could be used as the town's new senior center or other town facility. The order's four-story motherhouse was built in 1927.

       The Planning Board has approved plans by the Sisters of St. Francis to build a new administrative center, infirmary and residence on about nine acres on Reist Street near the Williamsville border.

       The 105,310-square-foot complex will accommodate 76 sisters after the order's motherhouse at 400 Mill St. is sold.

       Town Supervisor Susan J. Grelick would like the town to buy the parcel, and she may seek aid from the county, state and federal governments.

       The town did not budget money for the parcel's purchase in 1998, but Ms. Grelick said the town could borrow money through town bonding.

       Ms. Grelick, State Sen. Mary Lou Rath, R-Williamsville, and town officials and lawyers took a tour of the property before Christmas.

       "We'd like to buy it, sure, if it's a reasonable offer," Ms. Grelick said.

       Thielman, who was instructed by the town to inquire about purchasing the parcel, is scheduled to brief Town Board members next week.

       Tonight, the Amherst Historic Preservation Commission is expected to recommend that the Grist Mill at 265 Reist St. be designated a landmark, said Council Member Peggy Santillo.

       The order owns the mill.

       The commission is scheduled to hold a public hearing at Town Hall concerning the mill, a fixture in the Williamsville area since 1821. If the commission recommends landmark status, the Town Board would hold a public hearing and decide whether to designate the mill as a landmark.

       The order has told the town it would not object to such a designation as long as it extends only 40 feet beyond the mill and the rest of its property is excluded from further designations, Thielman said. "I would not be willing to accept that condition," Mrs. Santillo said. "Other parts of that property were given a high priority rating for preservation. The motherhouse is at the top of the list.

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