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Eggertsville panel will look into quality-of-life issues

In response to concerns raised by Eggertsville residents, the Amherst Town Board established an Eggertsville Task Force on Monday to address quality of life, safety and economic development issues in the community.

"What I had in mind is not just crime," said Supervisor Barry Weinstein, who introduced the resolution.

Weinstein described the purpose of the committee as addressing a number of priorities, including small-business development and job creation, crackdown on property neglect and graffiti, low-income grant opportunities and promotion of youth and senior programs.

He mentioned the need to promote new district design standards for Eggertsville, as well as the need to better utilize the Eggertsville Community Center.

Council Member Steven Sanders will head the new committee, which will also include representatives from town departments and community stakeholders.

"I have high hopes for the concept," Weinstein said. "I hope they will complete this work within the calendar year."

In other news, the board:

* Reactivated the town's Deer Adaptive Management Committee in light of the increase in deer-related accidents and nuisance problems in town. The committee is expected to evaluate the town's existing deer management policy and make recommendations to the board.

After a number of years showing a decline in the deer-related accidents in Amherst as a result of the Amherst Police Department's bait-and-shoot program, the town has seen an upswing in deer-related vehicle accidents in the past couple of years.

In 2009, the Police Department recorded 504 deer-related accidents, up from 377 the year before.

* Reviewed potential changes to the structure of Amherst town government as recommended by the town's Code Commission. The commission was created last year to look at the town's governance structure and reassert power to the supervisor that was eroded by the courts in 2007 and 2008.

Amherst last overhauled its governance code in 1976, giving the supervisor primary authority over the day-to-day operations of town government.

John P. Lane, former State Supreme Court justice, former town attorney and former member of the Town Board, reviewed the commission's changes, which correct technical deficiencies in the old town code and reassert the supervisor's hiring and firing rights in the executive branch. Appointments are still subject to board confirmation.

The code revisions also provide a new a mechanism to end deadlocks between the supervisor and the board regarding the filling of vacant offices or positions. A public hearing on the changes will be held April 12. If adopted, the matter will go to referendum.

e-mail: stan@buffnews.com

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