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Orchard Park Town Board holds final meeting with five members

Wednesday night's Orchard Park Town Board meeting was two years in the making.

It was the last meeting for veteran Councilwoman Nancy W. Ackerman and Councilman Edward J. Graber Jr., whose seats will disappear Jan. 1 because voters approved reducing the board from five to three members in 2009.

There were several comments about the advisability of downsizing to three members, who won't be able to talk about town business outside meetings because of the state's Open Meetings Law.

But most of the night belonged to Ackerman, who has served on the board for 20 years.

"This is a very sad day for Orchard Park because Nan is leaving the board," Councilman David Kaczor said, as he presented her flowers and a framed water color of the Jolls House.

Ackerman was lauded for her many volunteer activities, including the Boy Scouts, and serving on the Conservation and Planning boards before joining the Town Board. The councilwoman is also known for making Christmas ornaments for friends and bringing homemade cookies to work sessions.

Erie County Legislator Jack Mills, who served with her when he was on the Town Board, said he misses campaigning with her.

"It's tough to keep up with her. She hits every house in town," he said.

Ackerman has drawn the ire of residents who disagree with what they see as a pro-development stance. She is well-known by developers, who knew they had to satisfy her questions on projects, including type and color of materials used on the exteriors, before getting her vote.

"What this town looks like is caused, by large extent, to what you've done," Town Attorney Leonard Berkowitz told her.

Ackerman, 68, said she believes it is the sworn duty of elected officials to listen to the people and consider their point of view with all of the facts.

"Invariably no matter what we decide, we are bound to make unpopular decisions, despite our best efforts," she said. "Knowing that some will have been unhappy with the decisions I have made has been a heavy burden over the years, but I have always voted in ways that I thought would ensure the greatest good for the greatest number."

Graber, 47, has served four years on the board.

email: bobrien@buffnews.com