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Amherst's Republican-dominated government has an "unbalanced orientation" toward acquiring remote wetlands in the rural north, while the residents of densely populated areas go begging for park space, a Democrat running for the Town Board charged Thursday.

The several-hundred acres of wetlands the town has acquired, or is in the process of acquiring, are not accessible to the vast majority of residents, and their acquisition represents a land policy weighted toward "passive" rather than "active" recreation, George F. Hasiotis of Eggertsville said.

"The town has unfortunately taken the fast and easy route to public land acquisition," Hasiotis said.

"Instead, it should be fighting tooth and nail to bring accessible, appropriate-scale park space to our populated neighborhoods where families, children and senior citizens can use them safely on a daily basis," he said.

Hasiotis' comments came in a challenge to two town officials to follow up on their recent statements that the town should purchase a 3 1/2 -acre parcel that the Park School of Buffalo on Harlem Road wants to sell to a housing developer for $300,000.

Town Engineer Roland Doan Jr. and Councilman and Deputy Supervisor Harold J. Collier said they believe the 3 1/2 -acre site and an adjacent pond and marshy area should be preserved for its wildlife and drainage benefits.

Hasiotis challenged Doan and Collier to take the lead in a push to save the acreage from development. A bid to rezone the land for 12 expensive homes currently is before the Planning Board.

In terms of green space, "The Snyder-Eggertsville neighborhoods have been completely neglected" by planners over the years, Hasiotis charged.

Besides the Park School land, at least two other pieces of open land in or near Main Street also are earmarked for residential developments, Hasiotis said.

The Democrat criticized the town's alleged "inaction and lack of concern for vacant parcels in the Snyder area that would have made excellent passive-use and active-use small park areas. They've let too many golden opportunities get away," Hasiotis said.

"I've lived in this area for over a decade and have seen no leadership whatsoever by the town in securing public open space for our neighborhoods. I think most people have reached the conclusion that town government has a growth and building preoccupation."

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