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Vote nears on key step in reuse of Westwood course, Amherst sports facilities

Amherst is ready to seek state permission for a future exchange of town parkland that would make way for development in the area near the town's Northtown Center athletic facilities and preserve most of the former Westwood Country Club as green space.

The Town Board on Monday will hold a public hearing and a vote on whether to begin that process, known as alienation, Supervisor Brian J. Kulpa said.

Instead of seeking approval for a specific exchange of one piece of town-owned land for another owned by the developer, Mensch Capital Partners, the town is asking the state to preemptively alienate nearly its entire Audubon recreational complex, about 240 acres.

That gives the town flexibility as it hashes out development details with Mensch, Kulpa said.

"I regard this as a procedural step, not a finality," he said.

The Buffalo News in January, and again earlier this month, reported on the latest movement in the long-stalled redevelopment of the former Westwood golf course.

Kulpa on Friday addressed reporters and issued a statement elaborating on our earlier coverage. The town said, when all is said and done, it should end up with more parkland and enchanced recreational and cultural facilities. Those include improved sports fields, a field house for local schools and improved golf operations there or elsewhere in town.

Kulpa also said proceeds of the sale of portions of land at Audubon to the developer could help pay for a fifth ice pad at the Northtown Center.

The timing of the Town Board vote is driven by Amherst's desire to win approval from the State Senate and Assembly before the legislative session ends next month, Kulpa said, and because any further delay could jeopardize a proposed hotel and medical offices for a relocated UBMD Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine.

Amherst weighs swap of parkland in latest plan for Westwood site

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