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TWO FIRMS UNDER CONSIDERATION FOR MASTER PLAN

Two firms are being considered as candidates to compose Amherst's new master plan.

One will get the job.

Seven planning firms expressed interest in devising the town's new master plan, but a town selection committee has recommended hiring either Wallace Roberts & Todd, a planning firm headquartered in Philadelphia, Pa., or LDR International Inc., a firm based in Columbia, Md.

Representatives from both firms interviewed with Amherst lawmakers this week.

"They were both excellent," said Supervisor Susan J. Grelick. "Both have good credentials and have the tools to do the comprehensive master plan."

Amherst's seven-member Town Board is expected to choose between the two next week and then negotiate a price for the company's services.

Town officials have agreed to compose a new townwide master plan to reflect the direction development has taken over the past quarter century and help guide future planning decisions.

Amherst last framed a townwide master plan in 1975, although a smaller plan for Amherst's northeast corner was completed in 1985. Another "sector" plan for the town's southeast corner was done in 1992.

The new master plan is scheduled for completion by early 2001, although that may be optimistic.

This time around officials want a master plan to address some of the dramatic changes the town has undergone the past 25 years.

Tackling piecemeal rezonings and traffic congestion, responding to open space needs, restoring older neighborhoods and preserving farmland all are considered crucial issues in Amherst.

Amherst lawmakers peppered the representatives of the two firms with questions during Monday's interviews and both firms agreed these areas of concerns will be a vital piece to the master plan.

Wallace Roberts & Todd has more than 30 years' experience in comprehensive planning, urban design and landscape architecture, said David Rouse, a senior associate and project manager with the firm.

The company's planning team would consist of URS Greiner Woodward Clyde, which has expertise in transportation, infrastructure and environmental issues; Economic Research Associates, a firm based in Washington, D.C., which would provide economic analysis; and Duncan Associates, located in Austin, Texas, which would consult on development regulations and building codes.

Meanwhile, LDR International Inc. has composed master plans for communities -- both large and small -- across the country, said Uri P. Avin, director with LDR.

Its planning team would consist of Clough, Harbour & Associates of Buffalo for engineering and planning advice; Parsons/DeLeuw, Cather and Co. of Buffalo, which has expertise in transportation and engineering; Clarion Associates of Denver, Colo., which would provide economic analysis; and Flynn Battaglia Architects, which has the background in historic preservation and redevelopment.

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