An agenda focused on proactive planning and forecasting has big changes in store for the town of Amherst.
One of those changes involves figuring out what to do with the former Westwood Country Club site. Investors are proposing a $250 million dollar mix-use development which would include the Westwood property, Audubon Golf Course, UB property north of Audubon, and Northtown Center and the former gun club site.
New Amherst Supervisor Brian Kulpa calls the plan “Amherst Central Park”.
“We need a strategic park plan and then we need surrounding land use plan to make sure we are getting the right level of development next to what is going to be a very large central park,” said Kulpa. “That central park is meant to be a regional asset. Delaware Park level.”
Kulpa said he’s looking forward to working with a local waterfront revitalization plan along the Ellicott Creek to help make this happen.
These suggested changes come after Democrats took full control of the Amherst Town Board last November. The future of Niagara Falls Boulevard is another issue that must be confronted.
“Right now as it sits we have some strain on the retail economy,” said Kulpa. “Obviously there are parts of the Boulevard where retail’s very strong. There’s parts of the Boulevard where retail is starting to fall off. We need to figure out where the Boulevard heads in the next 20-30 years.”
Kulpa said he plans to work with landowners and residents to discuss the effect changes will have on the surrounding local community. That includes land use and zoning, street enhancement, and pedestrian and vehicular safety.
Another challenge is establishing a vision the community wants for the future of Amherst. Kulpa said they can accomplish that by setting up independent planning committees in places like Eggertsville, Getzville, Willow Ridge, and Snyder.
“Give the residents in those areas an opportunity to participate and say this is how we feel about our neighborhood,” said Kulpa. “This is what we want to see. Here’s what we need to change. Here’s what we need. Here’s what we need to keep as is. Then what we’re gonna do is accumulate those 8-10 community ideas or plans and put them together in to a single comprehensive plan.”
A different plan asks what Generation Z will want. Kulpa said millennials have already entered the workforce and have already made some decisions of where they are going to live. Preparing communities for the generation after has become a priority. It comes down to a focus on economic forecasting.
“Basically, acknowledging what we want as a town and developing plans around what the town is looking for,” said Kulpa. “Then allowing the market in the development to react to us and react to the towns wishes and desires.”