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After rejecting developer, Amherst wants to preserve 60 swampy acres as parkland

The Town of Amherst is one step closer to preserving as parkland 60 acres of green space that were the subject of a bruising legal fight with a developer who wanted to build a subdivision there.

The land, largely made up of wetlands, was as far back as 2000 the intended site of the 57-home, Gramercy Park Estates subdivision between Casey and North French roads, west of Got Creek. The site has an address of 9434 Transit Road.

However, residents of the nearby Pines and Pines East subdivisions objected to developer Eliot Lasky's plans, and the town beginning in 2003 took several steps to block the project.

GRAMERCY PARK DEVELOPER OFFERS COMPROMISE

Lasky took the town to court, but by 2014 had exhausted his legal options. So the town and the developer eventually agreed to a land swap.

The town as of December took over the roughly 60 acres north of Casey Road. That parcel sits just to the south of a 26.6-acre property the town is also turning into parkland in another swap tied to the development of a hotel at the Northtown Center ice rink.

This is part of the 60 acres of what was a proposed Gramercy Park Estates subdivision in Amherst. The town plans to rezone the swampy land and preserve it as an undeveloped park. (John Hickey/Buffalo News)

Bills on Amherst parkland swap introduced in State Legislature

In return, the town gave Lasky 4.8 acres described as isolated, undeveloped parkland on Penny Lane, off Campbell Boulevard, next to one of his existing subdivisions. The town also agreed to let Lasky keep the single-driest lot from among the 60 acres, off Twilight Lane, to develop it as a single-family home.

The town is seeking to rezone the 60 acres from single-family residential to recreation-conservation and preserve it as passive parkland. Amherst Supervisor Barry A. Weinstein said the town won't build ball fields, install playground equipment or otherwise develop the park.

"You put on your knee boots and you walk out in nature," Weinstein said. "It's all wet. There's really nothing we can do with it."

The property also will serve as a habitat for wildlife, he said.

The Planning Board could take up the rezoning request at its August meeting. The Town Board ultimately must approve it.

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