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The Amherst Planning Board has called a special meeting Nov. 5 on the site plan for the town's new four-rink ice skating arena, the last step required before construction can begin on the $18.3 million project.

With the completion deadline of next Sept. 1 becoming more of a factor each day, officials said last week they hope for board approval that night, after a formal public hearing at 7:30 in Amherst Town Hall.

If the plan isn't ready, the next opportunity would come at the Planning Board's regular monthly meeting on Nov. 20.

Plans filed last week with the town Planning Department list the petitioner as the Amherst Industrial Development Agency, which will finance the project with tax-exempt bonds and lease the facility to the town for 25 years.

In addition to the developer, Edgewater Ventures, others listed on plan documents are Independent Consulting Engineers, the St. Paul, Minn., firm that recently replaced the Cannon firm of Grand Island as project architect; Environmental Design & Research, an engineering, landscape, survey and ecology firm with the same business address as Edgewater; and Carmina Silvestri Architects.

Officials said the plan has a head start in the review process because some departments already have taken a look at the project and submitted their recommendations.

Still, pressing deadlines, with delays stemming from a successful court fight against demands for a referendum on the arena, have resulted in a site plan that, for now, "deals with overall sizes and general materials" and "will probably need to be adjusted," said a spokesman for Environmental Design & Research.

Designers have not had enough time to deal with some suggestions by town departments, the spokesman said. More detailed plans can be submitted as amendments, or through an administrative review, he said.

Plans call for a 50-foot-high, 170,366-square-foot building with a two-level atrium at the main entrance and an exterior of tinted architectural concrete block and metal panels. In addition to two levels and four rinks, the building will house a 6,000-square-foot town youth center in one corner.

Parking has been expanded to 1,050 spaces from about 300, with road connections to Amherst Manor Drive and North Maplemere Road in the busy Maple Road-Millersport Highway area.

Plans show three National Hockey League-sized rinks and one with Olympic dimensions. The main rink seats 1,400 people; the Olympic rink, 600; and the other two, 150 each.

The main features of the ground floor, besides the rinks themselves, include a food court, the youth center, 18 team rooms and rooms for coaches and referees, skating-oriented retail shops, team locker storage, a laundry, and ticket and rink offices.

On the second level, a 4,700-square-foot restaurant overlooks two rinks, including the main one. Other features include a video arcade, eight 1,000-square-foot club rooms, a 4,000-square-foot aerobic conditioning and weight room, and administrative and town recreation offices.

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