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Amherst highway chief proposes consolidating buildings

Amherst's parks and highway operations would be consolidated under one roof under a proposal made Monday by the town's highway chief.

The 20,000-square-foot Parks Department building on Maple Road is only at 25 percent capacity, said Amherst Highway Superintendent Patrick G. Lucey. He said it is used primarily to store equipment, such as lawn mowers, that maintains the nearby Audubon Golf Course.

"The Parks Department was built there because we did maintain the golf course," Lucey said, at an afternoon work session of the Town Board. "We don't do that anymore."

Amherst in 2015 handed over operations of its three municipal golf courses to a private company.

Lucey said parks employees and equipment at the Maple Road building could easily be moved into the highway barn on North Forest Road. The Parks Department is a division of Highway.

"It just makes sense to bring everything over, under the highway roof and to have everything done there," he said.

The Parks Department building and the acre it sits on could be sold for about $750,000, Lucey said. He proposed using those proceeds to build an addition on the highway barn to house the parks equipment and equipment currently stored outdoors and exposed to the elements.

A 10,000-square-foot garage addition at the highway barn would cost about $587,000, he said.

"What I'm talking about here, for this $600,000, is a working building attached to what we have to allow us not only to bring in the parks equipment but some of the other equipment we currently have housed outside," he said.

The Town Board made no decision Monday.

Lucey said he was only "starting the discussion."

Councilwoman Deborah Bruch Bucki asked Lucey to explain the rationale behind proposing the idea now, and Lucey said the building was fully utilized when the town operated Audubon Golf Course but those days are past.

"I think this is something that would benefit the town in the long run," Lucey said. "The Parks Department building is currently going to be needing some repairs. It's over 40 years old and there are some things there that are going to have to be addressed in the near future."

The parks building, adjacent to the former Buffalo Gun Club property, was built in the early 1970s, Lucey said. Parks employees during the winter use the building to repair benches and for other carpentry work.

"The need for it years ago isn't there anymore," he said. "To keep it going just doesn't make sense. We have a lot more space there than we need and it's going to cost money to upgrade it."

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