AMHERST, N.Y. — For years many neighbors have fought the plans for new development projects at the site of the old Westwood Country Club in Amherst. They want more green space not more buildings, construction, and traffic.
Now the town and developers are listening and talking about a new redevelopment plan that could include something called Amherst Central Park.
It would consist of hundreds of acres of green space larger than Buffalo's Delaware Park and slightly smaller than Central Park in New York City. It would incorporate spots like the old Westwood site, Audubon Golf Course, and natural areas along Ellicott Creek.
Mensch Capital Partners owns the former country club site, which is now a contaminated brownfield site that must be remediated before it's re-purposed.
The proposed Amherst Central Park plan doesn't scrap the idea of revenue and private development opportunities.
"There can be offsetting revenues and opportunities for private development in this corridor. The issue becomes where is it most appropriately placed and how much," said Town Supervisor Brian Kulpa.
Neighbors are scheduled to meet with the town later this month to talk about possible development ideas. Once more concrete plans are formed, there will be multiple public hearings to discuss them.
Mensch Capital's lawsuit with the town has been put on hold for the time being so meaningful, constructive conversations can happen without the pressure of litigation, according to Mensch Capital and Kulpa.
Both parties say they're not entirely sure what the final project will look like but agree that they need to set aside the original plan for mixed-use development at Westwood and explore new ideas that work best for the developer, town, and residents.
"There will need to be some level of development, but by looking at the development across a wider parcel, it now diffuses it and enables both to be done in a really positive way," said Andrew Shaevel, managing partner at Mensch Capital Partners.