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AMHERST PULLS ITS REPRESENTATIVE FROM RAIL PANEL STAFFER WILL REPLACE WARD, SERVE IN MONITOR ROLE ONLY

Amherst Monday pulled its elected representative off a 16-member committee weighing the question of extending Metro Rail to Amherst.

Supervisor Daniel J. Ward will be replaced on the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority committee by a Planning Department staff member "for monitoring purposes only," the Amherst Town Board decided during an afternoon meeting.

Amherst officials complained earlier this month that although their town is being proposed for a rapid-transit extension, it is being ignored in the decision-making process.

None of the five voting members of the NFTA Amherst Corridor Alternatives Analysis Steering Committee represents Amherst. Of the steering committee's 11 ex officio members, Amherst's only representative was its supervisor.

Ward -- an avowed opponent of rapid transit in Amherst -- asked the Town Board on Monday for permission to stop attending "meetings on a subject I disagree with and that I can't vote on."

The board not only decided to replace Ward with a planning staffer, but it rejected a request for a meeting March 5 with executives from Adrian Development Corp. Ward met for about an hour Monday with company representatives.

In November, Adrian Development announced a proposal to privately finance, design and build the Metro Rail extension to the North Campus of the University at Buffalo in time for the World University Games in 1993.

Although unheard of in the modern transit industry, Adrian Development officials said the concept would be possible if the state and federal governments would guarantee lease payments.

Under the proposal, the developer would acquire transit vehicles, privately build the system and lease it to the NFTA.

Ward conveyed his feelings about Amherst's representation on the Alternatives Analysis Steering Committee last Thursday in a letter to NFTA Executive Director Alfred H. Savage.

"I certainly feel that (Amherst) deserves more representation on this committee and further should be accorded voting status as well.

"Any alternatives selected by the professional transportation planners on the committee as voting members will certainly have a major impact on (Amherst) citizens.

"Unless their views are adequately represented," Ward told Savage, "it will be difficult to muster the necessary political and government support."

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