Aurora town officials are on the hunt for 20 acres for Hawk Creek Wildlife Center so that it will remain in the town as it looks to relocate from its site at Grover and Luther roads.
Supervisor Jolene Jeffe and Councilman James Bach met with the head of Hawk Creek earlier this week in an effort to get the center to stay in Aurora, although Bach acknowledged that the center is not ruling out any other town that could accommodate the facility.
"I just wanted to find out what they were looking for, and if there's any way that we can help, we will," Jeffe said Tuesday, after the issue was discussed at a Town Board work session. "It would be nice to try to keep it in the town. Their desire is to stay here."
Bach first expressed concern about the issue earlier this month, when he announced Hawk Creek's intention to relocate somewhere in the Southtowns.
"It would be nice to retain them. They've been a jewel here," he said, noting the family is looking to move the center off its own property.
Councilman Jeffrey Harris and others wondered whether nearby Knox Farm State Park might be a solution -- particularly the section of the park north of Williardshire Road.
Jeffe said the center has talked with state officials previously, and it's uncertain whether the state and center could work out something between lease timing issues and amenities the center would need. It's also unclear what kinds of proposals the state is seriously considering for the park.
Jeffe said the nonprofit sanctuary, which specializes in rehabilitating injured and orphaned wildlife, mostly birds, is seeking between 10 and 20 acres.
When Bach asked whether anyone knew of 20 acres available in the town, one resident at the work session said he knows of 26 acres -- the former Donaldson's Tree Farm on Grover Road that has closed and is for sale. "It's a great piece of property," he said.
In other business, Jeffe said she spoke with the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority about the proposed elimination of the bus route to East Aurora and learned that the proposal has been revised to possibly reduce or restructure the route.
Two more public hearings have been scheduled on the revised proposals for bus routes at 6 p.m. March 21 in Niagara Falls City Hall and 6 p.m. March 22 in the auditorium of the Central Library in downtown Buffalo.
The Town Board plans to forward a resolution supporting some form of service to Aurora and the Southtowns when it meets in regular session on Monday. The express bus route to East Aurora could see a possible 25-cent rate increase to $2, plus a 50-cent new surcharge because it is considered an express run.
"I think [usage] will increase if gas keeps going up," Bach said.
Jeffe said she wants to see the bus service maintained to the Southtowns area. "There's only one route, and it's important to keep us connected," she said.