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Amherst has second thoughts on downsizing, restricts parking around Daemen

Amherst leaders are having second thoughts about downsizing their six-member board to the more traditional five members.

Town leaders this week voted to change a plan that would have allowed for the continued downsizing of the board – which once had seven members, including the supervisor – down to five members.

“I think most people here think the Town Board has functioned very well here over the past two years,” said Supervisor Barry A. Weinstein.

But not everyone agreed with that.

Council Member Mark A. Manna, who voted to keep the downsizing language intact, said the move was a “classic bait-and-switch” by elected officials who promise one thing and do another once they’re elected to office.

His critics point out that it was Manna who has switched his position on the downsizing, first coming out as a staunch opponent before supporting the idea of a board consisting of five members or even three.

Either way, voters will have a chance in a special election in June to decide whether to keep the board size at six. If the vote is no, the board would have to figure out what to do next.

The board had far less debate Monday about new parking restrictions for streets around Daemen College.

Board members voted, 5-1, to restrict parking on weekdays in the neighborhood around the college after residents said their streets were clogged with traffic and other nuisances.

“My little kids should not have to see college students parked in their cars after school, perhaps locked in some sort of embrace,” said Melanie Crounse, who lives on Mount Vernon Road near the campus. “I pay a lot of taxes for them to not have to see that.”

Daemen has struggled with parking issues as the college continues to expand. It has 839 parking spaces on a campus that enrolls nearly 3,000, and nearly half the students are commuters.

The college has reconfigured its current parking lots and has leased space nearby to gain about 110 new spots.

Town officials say their own studies show that roughly the same number of students were parking in the residential streets around the campus at times of peak volume.

Some residents, though, said the weekday parking restrictions would penalize them by taking away parking they use for their own guests at parties and other occasions.

One resident said the parked cars actually slow traffic on the street, making it safer for children.

Board members said the parking restrictions would not be a permanent solution. “We’re really just kicking the can down the road here,” Manna said. “I expect that six months down the road, we’ll be dealing with the same concerns. The only thing that changes is the street names.”

News Staff Reporter Sandra Tan contributed to this report. email: