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Orchard Park residents to vote on $16M community center

It's not nearly as hotly contested as the presidential race, but the consequences of the vote in Orchard Park Nov. 8 will be felt for years, by young and old.

Residents will decide if they want the town to spend $16 million to build a multi-generational recreation building, with a senior center, community center and a gym.

A public referendum is not legally required, and the three-member Town Board could make the decision on its own.

"It's too big a decision," Town Board Member Michael Sherry said. "We should listen to the community. The best way to do that is a vote."

If voters approve the project and planning goes smoothly, construction could start in the spring of 2018, he said. The project would result in a tax increase of $5.64 month, or  $67.69 year, for the average homeowner, according to the town.

Before the vote, the town will have three community meetings on the proposal: at 6:30 p.m. Nov. 3 in the basement meeting room in the municipal center; 10 a.m. Nov. 5 and 6:30 p.m. Nov. 7, both at the Town Board chambers/court room.

The idea of a new complex at Brush Mountain Park, the town-owned property on California Road that already has baseball diamonds and football fields, has been discussed for years. Senior citizens have long complained of cramped quarters and inadequate parking at the senior center on Linwood Avenue and have advocated for a new senior center. There was a thought the town could buy the former Baker Road school from the Orchard Park Central School District, but that did not work out.

The town presented two options on new builds to the public last spring: one for $20 million, which would include a community center for children, young adults and families, a senior center and two gyms. The second option would add an indoor pool, outdoor splash pad and field house for about $10 million more. Sherry said the estimate for the original proposal was pared down to $16 million. Each of the components could be built in a separate phase, he said.

The town also commissioned a poll of residents earlier this year. The survey of 668 residents found the first option had a higher chance of being approved, and cost was a determining factor. Forty-one percent said they would support the $16 million option.

Some interesting results of the poll:

  • Nearly 52 percent said the full build out was more appealing to them.
  • 30 percent said they had children under 18 at home with them.
  • 24 percent of those polled were 18-45 years old, and 76 percent were over 45.

The Community Activities Center Task Force is to report Wednesday to the Town Board on the cost of building and running the center, the revenues it could produce, and the benefits of the proposal.


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