ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — There was only one public scoping session regarding the new Bills stadium. That was held on July 14.
However, the public had until July 28 to let their voice be heard through submitted comments via the Buffalo Bills SEQR website.
2 On Your Side filed a Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) request with Erie County to obtain the comments. WGRZ received those documents on Sept. 1.
According to the documents provided by the county, only 22 people submitted comments about the new Bills stadium.
The county sent an unredacted document that contains the personal information of those who submitted comments. Before those comments are published, 2 On Your Side is ensuring all personal information is removed.
The overall theme of the comments is frustration over taxpayers bearing the bulk of the expenses for the new stadium. There was much debate on social media about whether the stadium should be downtown or remain in Orchard Park, or whether it should have a dome or remain in the open air.
But with only 22 comments, it's difficult to gauge the scope of public opinion.
Additional frustrations that were expressed were the lack of sidewalks on Abbott Rd.
"I always thought it was dangerous," said Dr. Patrick Keem, former Town Supervisor for the Town of Orchard Park. "I'm hoping when they build the new stadium, that they build beautiful wide sidewalks around the area for people to safely walk to and from the game."
Keem was one of the 22 individuals who submitted comments.
Seneca Nation President Matthew Pagels also submitted comments. The Seneca Nation is "disappointed that the Seneca Nation and Tonawanda Seneca were not included on the list of potentially interested and involved agency, despite Highmark Stadium being built on top of burial ground."
Regarding SUNY Erie, several comments were submitted that expressed concern over compensation the college is receiving for land that was transferred to the state.
"Is ECC being compensated for land taken from it?" one comment read.
"We want to see The Bills succeed, but not at the expense of our community college," another comment read.
A spokesperson for SUNY Erie could not make any administrators available for an interview but said they're satisfied with what the Bills and County are putting together.
"This money could have been much better spent on other improvements for the county and even helped reduce taxes and improve the schools," said David from Lake View in a comment.
Erie County and the Bills are currently negotiating the community benefits agreement. The deadline was initially September 1, but both sides agreed to extend the deadline.