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TOWN INTENT ON GETTING WALDEN COMMERCE EXCHANGE ACCESS

The Town of Cheektowaga is taking steps to condemn a piece of property for access to the stalled Walden Commerce Exchange.

The industrial park has been planned for more than a decade on property just south of Walden Avenue and west of Harlem Road. The town sold about 14 acres several years ago for Federal Express to build a distribution center, which opened in 2001. FedEx so far is the only business to locate in the industrial park.

"We need access to the site to make it developable," said Jerome J. Gabryszak, director of community development.

That's where the parcel at 1071 Walden Ave. at Pine Ridge Road comes in. It has long been proposed as the west entrance to the industrial park. The half-acre parcel had been the site of a gas station.

The town has tried to buy it from the owner, 2976 Seneca St. Inc., Town Attorney Michael J. Stachowski said. A formal purchase offer was made about three months ago.

"They didn't answer at all," Stachowski said.

The Town Board will hold a public hearing at 6:30 p.m. Nov. 15 on acquiring the property through eminent domain.

"The property has been run-down, neglected and vacant for a while," Town Supervisor Dennis H. Gabryszak said.

He said the industrial park is in an area on which the town is focusing for redevelopment and maintaining a good quality of life.

"We're dedicated to stabilization of property values," the supervisor said. "It's important to that neighborhood that we get that park developed."

Cheektowaga Economic Development Corp. and Ciminelli Development Co. signed a partnership agreement in 1991 to develop the 55-acre Walden Commerce Exchange. There were plans for 400,000 square feet of office, warehouse and light industrial space. It was hoped that there could be 1,000 to 1,500 people employed at various businesses there.

Jerome Gabryszak said that once the town opens access to the site, it may sell it to a developer to attract businesses.

At least one neighbor would like to see the town use another parcel for the driveway. Kathleen Pogorzelski of Walden said the town should demolish the house at 1155 Walden. The town owns the house, an old florist shop that some people would like to see preserved.

e-mail: bobrien@buffnews.com

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