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Woodlawn Beach takeover defended

Woodlawn Beach State Park is a valuable recreational resource for the Town of Hamburg, Supervisor Steven Walters said Monday, and the town is right to take over its operations later this year.

"This is bringing people into the Town of Hamburg," Walters said, responding to residents' questions during a Town Board meeting about the move. "These are essentially tourist dollars coming into the Town of Hamburg."

The board approved a fee schedule for renting the building at the beach for private parties. The cost ranges from $75 for half the main room for two hours during the off-season, to $750 for the full room for an evening during peak season, from May through September and in December.

"I wish we could have discussed this at a public hearing," Councilman Jonathan Gorman said. "I'm hoping it won't cost the town money."

The board approved a 10-year agreement Dec. 6 to run the park. The town will keep the revenues from the $7-per-car admission fee and hall rentals, and pay for park maintenance and personnel.

The town plans to set up an enterprise fund for the beach, much like it does for the town golf course, so that the users will pay for the beach, not taxpayers.

But some residents asked why the town is taking over the beach, and Councilman Joseph Collins said he had received calls concerned that there was not enough public discussion of the takeover.

"We have been reviewing this matter since March of last year," Walters said. "We've discussed this at work sessions. This has been out there."

He estimated it will cost the town $289,000 to run the park. He said a review of state books leads the town to believe it will break even the first year of operation.

"I hope you're right," said Steve Strnad of Scranton Road.

Gorman said the town plans to review the operations after the first year.

Also Monday night, the board approved rezoning five parcels on Southwestern Boulevard from residential to commercial. The property is near the Lowe's store, and the homeowners asked to be rezoned. An odd-shaped sixth parcel, at 4828 Southwestern, adjacent to backyards on Dogwood Lane, was not rezoned, although the owner had wanted to be included.

e-mail: bobrien@buffnews.com

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