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AFTER 2 BOTCHED BIDS FOR SOIL STUDY, COUNTY
AWAITS TOWN'S REFILING

Amherst botched two chances to apply for a $10,000 Erie County grant, and now county officials are waiting for the town try again, they said Friday.

It's not just any old $10,000 grant.

This one was intended to help pay for a critical Army Corps of Engineers study of Amherst's problem soils.

The first application disappeared last month somewhere in Amherst Town Hall; the second was not properly completed, according to County Legislator Barry Weinstein, R-Amherst, who arranged for the funds for Amherst.

"It's a perfect example of, 'Nobody knows,' " Amherst Council Member Shelly Schratz complained Friday, after learning the town had to dip into other funds for the $10,000 grant to avoid a further delay in the soil study.

"We could have done this a month and a half ago. Why did we wait so long?" Schratz said.

According to Weinstein, the money is not in jeopardy and is waiting for the town to complete a proper application.

"(Incomplete applications are) not unusual. It happens all the time," he said.

Amherst, meanwhile, had to take $10,000 from a capital projects account to help pay for the initial phase of the corps study -- something that town officials said in March could not be done without special action by the Town Board.

In March, Weinstein announced that the county would provide $10,000 of an initial $25,000 for the Amherst soil study to help determine the cause of sinking and cracking foundations in some areas of North Amherst.

Hundreds of homeowners and others are eagerly awaiting the results.

At the time, the county grant was vital because Amherst officials claimed they had no money in the budget for the study. Two housing developers stepped forward to provide the other $15,000 for the survey.

To qualify for county funds, the town must submit an application, which must be approved by a second vote by the County Legislature, officials say.

But the town's first application, sent initially to the Town Board, disappeared after an assistant town attorney had filled it out.

"I never saw it. I think they sent it back to the Town Board," Town Attorney E. Thomas Jones said. Despite a search, officials were unable to find the lost application, Schratz recalls.

Supervisor Susan J. Grelick insisted it never reached her office.

"It was misdirected," she said Friday.

A second application fared only slightly better. This time, Grelick says she filled out the four-page request and sent it back early this month.

The application, however, was incomplete, according to county workers. Grelick confirmed that she had sent the county more information about the request for the funds.

e-mail: tdolan@buffnews.com

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