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Merchants plan area improvements

About 18 business owners and residents of the area around Main Street and Eggert Road in Amherst got together Thursday to plan improvements to their neighborhood.

The meeting, held by the Main-Eggert Revitalization Committee in St. Paul's Lutheran Church, was aimed at brainstorming aesthetic and infrastructure improvements to boost private investment.

The committee was assisted by staff from both the Amherst Industrial Development Agency and Amherst Planning Department.

"What we're doing is working toward prioritizing what improvements should be undertaken first," said David Mingoia of the Amherst IDA.

Once priorities are established, Mingoia said, the committee will move to the design phase of the project and, ultimately, some type of reconstruction.

John Felgemacher, who owns a plaza on the corner of Main and Eggert, said he is not generally displeased with the current condition of the area surrounding the intersection, but he worries about the future.

Among Felgemacher's dozen tenants is a veterinary clinic, and he wants to make sure the business' needs continue to be met.

"What I'm concerned about is if [the veterinarian] says, 'You know, I can't run a business here; I've got to get out of here,' and he leaves. I'm really concerned about is the long-term viability of our plaza," Felgemacher said.

Also, he said, he is concerned about the safety of pedestrians, particularly among those who attend one of five schools located within half a mile of the intersection.

"There's a lot of foot traffic there," Felgemacher said, "so improvements could be new streetlights, better designation of the crosswalks. And some of the sidewalks are falling apart which, again, could be a danger to the kids walking down the street walking to school."

The town Planning Department will help the committee decide what kind of zoning is needed to accommodate its plans, while the IDA will assist in creating a business development model.

Mingoia said the IDA and the town have hired expert help from the School of Architecture and Planning at the University at Buffalo to assist with some of the urban design analysis.

"They're kind of filling in the gaps that we don't have the expertise in-house for," Mingoia said.


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