A new community center in Eggertsville and a new home for the Boys & Girls Club may end up being constructed in the same building on land owned by the Amherst Central School District.
A committee made up of members of the Amherst Youth Board, the Boys & Girls Club and the University at Buffalo presented the idea to the Amherst School Board during its Tuesday night meeting. The proposed facility, still in the conceptual stage, would be built on district-owned land north of Windermere Boulevard Elementary School.
"Almost 17 months ago, the Boys & Girls Club approached the School of Architecture and Planning at UB," explained G. Scott Danford, an associate professor at the school. "They wanted to know if we could design a free-standing home for them in Eggertsville."
Danford and his students submitted a series of designs, only to be presented a new request: Design a community center with the Boys & Girls Club becoming the primary tenant. Danford said the shift in focus made sense.
"A community center and the Boys & Girls Club would have a lot in common, having the same types of spaces," he said. "It made sense to have them share a building, rather than duplicate them."
He cited the successful pairing of a similar community center and a Boys & Girls Club in Pittsburgh as an example.
Danford's team was hampered by the fact that Eggertsville is heavily built up, with little vacant land. Still, it found seven possible locations for the structure before running into a major roadblock -- nearly all the available sites were privately owned and could be obtained only at a prohibitive cost.
According to Danford, the Windermere Boulevard location offered several advantages: Land acquisition would be less expensive, and no buildings would have to be torn down to make way for the community center, meaning the area's tax base would not be affected.
The location also offered the opportunity for sharing certain components, such as Windermere pupils using the community center's gymnasium, while community center visitors might use the school's lot for overflow parking.
Danford was reluctant to give a cost estimate for the proposed project, noting only that the similar facility in Pittsburgh cost $3 million.
The board took no action on the project, with members pointing out that several issues, including land ownership, liability and public comment, have yet to be addressed. But the board did agree to review design proposals at a future meeting.
In other matters, Legislator Elise Cusack, R-Amherst, a 1987 graduate of Amherst, was given an award for the donation of three defibrillators to the district.