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Amherst may advertise for new town engineer

The Amherst Town Board is back in session Monday after a three-week hiatus, and advertising for a new town engineer will be among the matters it takes up.

Before he retired in August, Thomas C. Ketchum did double duty as the acting town engineer and building commissioner.

Ketchum’s successor, Brian P. Andrzejewski, also has been filling the town engineer position on an interim basis.

But Councilwoman Ramona D. Popowich, a member of the Town Board’s new Democratic majority, wants the human resources office to advertise to fill the town engineer’s position on a permanent basis.

In his recent State of the Town address, Supervisor Barry A. Weinstein supported the idea of Andrzejewski continuing to act as town engineer while simultaneously serving as building commissioner.

Weinstein didn’t balk at advertising for a permanent town engineer. He said that was an option previously pursued by the Town Board.

“We had candidates. We found one that was OK, but we didn’t find any of the other candidates to be acceptable. Rather than hire an OK candidate, I just assumed we’d give it to Brian Andrzejewski. He had applied for the town engineer position originally but we made him building commissioner,” Weinstein said.

“He’s doing what Tom Ketchum did, but Tom Ketchum had a lot more experience. He had 40 years in the Building Department … and he had been in the Engineering Department many, many years ago. So he was able to pick it up naturally, but I have had no criticism of the job Brian has been doing, so far,” Weinstein added.

Also on Monday’s Town Board agenda are public hearings to extend payment in lieu of taxes agreements for two affordable senior citizen housing developments, Hopkins Court Senior Living Community at Hopkins and North French roads, and St. Mary’s Commons Apartments on Mill Street in Williamsville. The extension of both PILOTs from 15 to 30 years would allow the property owners to continue to offer affordable senior housing if they continue to pay off their mortgages. Weinstein said the board was advised of the pros and cons of extending the PILOT agreements during a closed-door meeting last month with the town assessor.

“We decided to have a public hearing so the public could weigh in as to whether the subsidy should be extended,” Weinstein said.

The Town Board also will make a decision to authorize the pursuit of federal grant money for additional sidewalks in the town.

“We’ve been getting a federal grant every two or three years and expanding our sidewalks at federal expense. We do put in some money, but it’s mostly federal money,” said Weinstein.

Sidewalk projects in the town have been funded under the Safe Routes to Schools program and the Amherst Sidewalks for Safety Project.