Please use the navigation menu at bottom the Page       





                                                                                                                                                             St Mary of the Angels     Reist Mill     Historic Maps & Photos


History of Amherst State Park News Archives



Buffalo News,   February 24, 1998  by Patrick Lakamp

       Amherst lawmakers moved Monday to buy 100 acres of prime undeveloped land owned by the Sisters of St. Francis to turn into the town's only major park.

       A month ago the Town Board told its lawyer to negotiate with the order to get a feel for the property and the asking price.

       Monday, the board told the lawyer to make a deal.

       Board members voted 7-0 for the proposal by Council Member James P. Hayes to buy the land.

       "I think all of the board members have heard the community loud and clear," Hayes said.

       The Sisters of St. Francis, which owns the land just north of Williamsville, has indicated it prefers to sell the property to the town.

       Under Hayes' plan, the town would pay up to $5 million for the property. The purchase would be contingent on the state or federal governments or private sources coming up with at least half the purchase price.

       Chances for that improved last week as the Sisters of St. Francis property was added to Western New York's wish list for public lands. The property was included as a regional priority in the state Open Space Conservation Plan. Though providing no guarantees, the inclusion gives the town a better shot at winning state funding for buying the property at 400 Mill St.

       Laura Kracker of 429 Mill supports the town's attempt to buy the land.

       "Things are looking a little better now," she said after watching the vote. "It's such a gem. All you have to do is walk through there to see its natural beauty. I just want it to stay the way it is now."

       First Amherst Development Group, a developer, has told the order it is interested in buying the land. News of the development group's interest led Hayes to introduce the measure and the Town Board to act on it, board members said.

       Under the resolution, the town will also estimate all the potential costs and impacts of buying the property and establishing a 100-acre park.

       The town will also try to figure out how much it would cost to renovate and use the St. Mary of the Angels motherhouse.

       The property includes the sprawling four-story motherhouse, built in 1927 and containing 130,000 square feet of space.

       Council Member William L. Kindel has warned against buying the property without looking into the costs he says will come later.

       One preliminary estimate by town building officials puts the cost of renovating the motherhouse at $7 million, he said.

       Kindel pushed the board to get an appraisal for the property and to figure out possible uses and renovation costs of the motherhouse.

       "We have our heart in the right place," Kindel said. "That was never in doubt. Now we're using common sense and protecting our wallet."

       Hayes suggests looking into using recreation and open space fees charged to developers of new housing to help cover the acquisition cost. Community development money could also be earmarked for the purchase, he said.

       The board wants to buy the land without raising town taxes.

       If the town chooses to borrow money by issuing a bond, board members want the town comptroller to find a way to structure the debt so that the repayment costs would come due only after a corresponding amount of debt costs on current projects are paid off.

Back to History News Archives pagehnews.html