Amherst, NY - Hockey players, parents, and fans may eventually have another place to stay for the weekend when they're involved in a tournament at the town operated Northtown Center in Amherst. That would be a four-story hotel project which a developer has suggested to the town. This even as it considers an extension of the four rink facility to possibly five or six rinks. Deputy Town Supervisor Steven Sanders says "I think a hotel could possibly bring in more revenue for the center and help with its financial health."

But for that hotel they would need a nearly three acre plot of land next to the center along Amherst Manor Drive. In essence they would have to swap out those acres of green space with another expanded site in a town park or elsewhere. That whole process called "alienation" would be subject to state and possibly federal approval. It's a concern for some residents who don't like to see any greenspace developed. They also question if Amherst has too many hotels already. Alissa Shields says "This is a saturated area with hotels. I'm questioning if they really did any kind of survey to look at the hotel business and especially an occupancy survey."

But Northtown Center General Manager Eric Guzdek contends they're busy already with numerous hockey softball and soccer tournaments at the recreation complex. And he says they project more activity in the years ahead "We bid out for more tournaments and we were think we're getting a lot of out-of-town guests."

Tonight's decision by the Town Council to start the process was just the first step. There would have to be multiple layers of approval taking two years or more. The property would also have to be rezoned besides the property swap. Besides approval from the state, permission from the federal government may also be necessary as a so-called conversion because some of the land may have been acquired through federal funding with UB.