Amherst board members clashed again Monday over accusations that the town's Industrial Development Agency pirates businesses from other parts of Western New York.
The bickering broke out as Council Member Daniel J. Ward, a frequent critic of the Amherst agency, attempted to offer two measures targeting its practices.
In the end, both failed to receive seconds, but that didn't end the debate.
"(The agency) 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 agency 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 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 agency never has engaged in stealing business from its neighbors and deserves praise, not criticism.
"Dan Ward's not putting the matter correctly," Kindel charged, offering a competing motion to commend the agency for its efforts to develop Amherst without luring businesses from other towns.
Council Members Jane S. Woodward and Bob Brewer joined Kindel in defending the agency. Rather than criticize, other development agencies should emulate Amherst's, they contended.
Thirteen development agencies in the county have signed an agreement to avoid pirating development from each other, but the highly successful Amherst agency so far has refused to endorse the agreement.
The Buffalo Niagara Partnership and the county agency also have lobbied state legislators to limit development agencies to one per county, which would spell the end of local agencies 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 the county to donate four soccer fields on Erie Community College's North Campus if the school ever is 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.