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Amherst fixture Bill Kindel, 84, is relocating – to Israel

A month shy of turning 85, William L. Kindel has "a new adventure" planned.

But for the first time in his 50-plus years in politics, this one will not involve Amherst.

He's moving to Israel.

For five decades, Kindel has been a fixture in town politics, including stints as town Republican committee chairman and Planning Board member and five four-year terms as a town councilman. He estimates he attended more than 500 Town Board meetings as a board member. Currently, he is chairman of the Amherst Conservative Party, with his term ending in September.

"Amherst grew and grew, and I grew with it," Kindel said.

But now it's time to leave, he said.

He's put up for sale his Arlington Road home of 52 years.

His days in politics will soon be over.

Will he miss it?

"I already do," he said.

In coming weeks, he and his wife, Maureen, will travel to an area just outside Jerusalem for a grandchild's wedding. They plan to return to Amherst for a short while, and then head back to Israel for good, probably in September. Kindel's grown daughter and her family have lived in Israel for years, and she bought a place there for the Kindels to live.

Bill Kindel: a half century of Amherst politics runs through his veins

Kindel held political office during a time when town officials seemed only too happy to rezone vacant land so the properties could become housing developments, office parks and strip malls. He supported many of those projects. In 1998, for example, he voted for 78 percent of the rezoning applications that came before the Town Board, the highest percentage on the board.

He also angered developers at times. He said he tried to find the right balance and wasn't an automatic vote for development. He liked the jobs that came with what he called the right developments.

"You can't live in a cocoon isolated from the world," he said.

But he also belonged to the Sierra Club and could side with homeowner groups worried about their neighborhoods.

He angered unions, like when he supported a privatization study for the town's compost facility.

And he sought - and won - political office without seeking the Amherst Republican Committee's endorsement for re-election.

Kindel, an outspoken board member who lost re-election in 2007, would like his legacy to be one of saving green space, pioneering the town's  composting and recycling efforts and supporting public safety.

"I feel good about my contributions. A lot of people made a lot of contributions. So much of the area did turn out well," he said.

"It's going to be hard to say goodbye," he said.

He calls his move to Israel a "new adventure."

Maureen Kindel said she and her husband are looking foward to the move.

"We're both over 80 going on 60," she said.

The Kindels have become familiar with parts of Israel through their visits there over the years.

"It's a beautiful country," he said.

As a Catholic and a history buff, he looks forward to learning more about its religious past.

He's also a bit nervous about such a big move.

"It's like jumping off a diving board," Kindel said. "It's all so different. But you don't get many chances at diving in."

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