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Amherst to spend $8.2 million for capital improvement projects

Amherst will dump more than $8.2 million into a variety of capital improvements, from paving bike trails to replacing waterlines.

The Amherst Town Board agreed on Monday to borrow the money, three-quarters of which will be used to continue updating the town’s wastewater treatment plant on Tonawanda Creek Road.

Amherst has spent millions of dollars over the past several years to refurbish the aging plant, after the state Department of Environmental Conservation fined the town for polluting Tonawanda Creek with high levels of ammonia and oxygen-depleting water from the plant. Besides a fine, the town was required to complete a top-to-bottom assessment of the plant and come up with a long-term plan for fixing its deficiencies

The town dedicated $5.9 million to fix the treatment facility in 2011; $6.7 million in 2012; $7.1 million in 2013; $7.4 million in 2014; and $6.3 million this year. The spending for 2015 will cost taxpayers $5.41 per $100,000 assessed valuation.

Work is moving along, said Jeffery D. Angiel, assistant municipal engineer.

“We’re very busy,” Angiel said. “We’ll be active construction-wise until 2018.”

Amherst anticipates allocating another $8.2 million on the treatment plant next year. The entire project is expected to cost upwards of $55 million by 2018, when the improvements are to be completed.

The $8.2 million approved Monday is more than half of the $15 million Amherst plans to borrow this year for capital improvements.

Other capital projects include: replacing waterlines along Robin Hill Road, Northington Drive, Clearfield Drive, and Odessa Drive/Lily Brooke Court, $1.58 million; repaving town bike paths and trails, $103,500; recreation and park improvements, such as resurfacing the tennis courts at Willow Ridge Park and redoing the softball fields at Creek Woods Park, $100,000; culvert work at Flint Road, $75,000; and reconfiguring the intersection of North Bailey, Emerson Drive and Amsterdam Avenue, $50,000.

In other business, the board turned down a request from Eric and Christie Barton of Cheektowaga to rezone about a third of an acre for construction of a two-family residence at the southeast corner of Wayne Avenue and Irvington Drive.

More than 40 nearby residents objected to plans for the Barton’s two-family ranch. They told the board it doesn’t fit into a neighborhood with single-family homes and raised concerns the rezoning would open the door for similar proposals.