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Letter: Put eminent domain to use to keep Westwood green

Amherst is at a critical point – hopefully a turning point.

The fifth-largest population center in New York State, bigger than Albany and only 16,000 behind Syracuse, needs to make a vital decision. Concede as usual to developer greed and let them ruin the beautiful Westwood property or end the relentless overdevelopment of Amherst by protecting Westwood with eminent domain.

Eminent domain has been abused lately as developers have misrepresented their pipelines, apartments, multi-use whatever’s, as “being in the public interest,” but profits always seem to end up in their pockets – it’s confiscating private land for corporate profit. But in the case of Westwood, the outcome being a public park, it would seem to be exactly what eminent domain was created for.

At well over 100 acres this will be the backyard of everyone in Amherst.

Westwood, the two adjoining Audubon golf courses, and the former gun club land present a fantastic opportunity to reverse the loss of greenspace in Amherst. This is a chance to create a park system which will rival Delaware Park’s importance to Buffalo. This will be the centerpiece of Amherst.

Mensch Capital Partners has done nothing in five years except to fence off this property and declare it contaminated. If Westwood is contaminated then so is every other golf course in Erie County because they are all maintained the same way. In fact, after lying fallow since 2014 it’s probably some of the cleanest soil in Amherst.

Let’s stop lining the pockets of these developers who don’t give a hoot about the neighborhoods they ruin and do something for us; the people who live here and pay taxes here. Start eminent domain procedures now.

Phil Parshall


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