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BOARD ARGUES OVER IDA'S ALLEGED PIRATING TACTICS

Amherst board members clashed again Monday over accusations that the town's Industrial Development Agency pirates businesses from other areas in Western New York.

The bickering broke out as Council Member Daniel J. Ward, a frequent critic of the Amherst IDA, attempted to offer two measures targeting agency practices.

In the end, both failed to receive seconds, but that didn't end the debate.

"(The IDA) has managed to gut the City of Buffalo and many other areas. . . . They're not as successful as they would like to think they are," Ward complained, describing the development group as "a rogue agency" that "needs to get off the pirate ship."

Ward offered a second motion requesting that the IDA be required to adjust its reports to show the number of "true jobs created" by developers, not just those that were moved from some other plant location in Erie County.

"They're causing too much development in Amherst, and people don't want it," Ward said.

But according to Council Member Bill Kindel, the Amherst IDA has never engaged in stealing business from its neighbors, and it deserves praise, not criticism.

"Dan Ward's not putting the matter correctly," Kindel charged, offering a competing motion to commend the IDA for its efforts to develop Amherst without luring businesses from other towns.

Also joining Kindel in his defense of the IDA were Council Members Jane S. Woodward and Bob Brewer, who claim that, rather than criticize, other development agencies should emulate the Amherst IDA.

Thirteen development agencies in Erie County have signed an agreement to avoid pirating development from each other, but the highly successful Amherst IDA has so far refused to endorse the agreement.

The Buffalo Niagara Partnership and the Erie County IDA also have lobbied state legislators in an effort to limit the number of competing development agencies to one per county, a move that would spell the end of local IDAs like Amherst's.

But Kindel, whose motion was approved by a 6-1 vote, insists that Amherst has led the way without engaging in underhanded tactics.

"We've been the economic engine of Western New York without pirating," he said after the meeting.

In other action, the board voted unanimously to ask Erie County to donate four soccer fields at Erie Community College's North Campus if the school is ever closed or sold. Patricia Krzesinski, president of the college board, also assured about 25 soccer enthusiasts who attended the meeting that the college's board has no intention of disposing of the soccer fields.

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