Amherst should acquire Westwood for use as park
It’s curious that the Westwood site is such a hazard that it requires a fence around it to protect the public.
Golfers have played its links since 1926, apparently without issue. But, in an obnoxious move, the Mensch Group developers have gone on the offensive against the town and the “Keep Westwood Green” neighbors. Taking a play from “put up a fence” Donald Trump, the Mensch boys’ spite fence is a nasty in-your-face move.
The Amherst Town Board was correct to ask about acquiring the parcel, opening the door to a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to make a bold move on behalf of the public. Many have dubbed a proposed park at Westwood as Amherst’s Central Park, a 170-acre swath of green space smack dab in the middle of upstate New York’s largest town. The Town Board and its state representatives should craft a financial package and legal strategy that accomplishes the acquisition of Westwood for the town and its citizens.
Make no mistake about who controls what occurs at Westwood. Perhaps the most important task of local government is land use control. The Town Board and its agents, the Planning and Zoning Boards, decide what goes where, when and how tall it is.
It is doubtful that the Town Board will act decisively prior to the November elections. The 2016 Town Board will, very likely and for the first time, have a female majority with both major parties fielding women candidates. It thus remains to be seen whether Amherst’s “town mothers” will feel the same way about unchecked commercial development as Amherst’s town fathers. And whether Westwood will remain green in perpetuity or be a parking lot and another hotel.
Keep Westwood green. Make it a park.
Michele F. Marconi