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Amherst wants Metro Rail extension -- but does Buffalo?

We wrote earlier this year about how the suburbs finally seem to want an expansion of Metro Rail or some other extension of public transit. 

But while Amherst leaders are open to the idea, the three candidates running for Mayor of Buffalo don't seem to keen on spending city dollars to make that happen. 

Watch this video from last night's mayoral debate to see what they think of the issue.

These images tell the story in Williamsville

Your head might be spinning after all the recent talk about "curb cuts" and "bulb-outs" as a way to make Williamsville more pedestrian friendly.

But if those terms are a bit unclear, the images below make things easier to visualize.

Taken at the recent pedestrian block party by News Staff Photographer Sharon Cantillon, the pictures show what the proposed changes would actually look like on the street (follow the chalk lines).

Here's a "bulb-out" that would extend the sidewalk and prevent drivers from cutting off pedestrians:

Picture Main 1

Here are plantings that would shield pedestrans from traffic:

Pic main 3

The changes in the Picture Main Street plan are still subject to state approval, but village officials say they expect the above modifications to get the green light.

Williamsville board meeting tonight

Fresh off recent talk -- and action -- about traffic and walkability, the Village of Williamsville board will discuss some other quality-of-life issues tonight. 

The board will talk about the placement of signs -- both commercial and political -- as well as cars parking on front lawns and federal block grant funding.

View the village board work session agenda here and the regular agenda here. The work session begins at 6 p.m.; regular meeting at 7:30. Both meetings in Village Hall, 5565 Main Street.

Amherst Town Board meeting agenda

The Amherst Town Board will meet at 3 p.m. today at the Amherst Municipal Building, 5583 Main St.

It's a relatively light agenda but here are two items of interest. The board may once again consider a rezoning of a parcel across from Williamsville South High School that a developer wants to turn into a mixed-use apartment and retail complex.

Also noteworthy are recommended changes to the town's controversial backyard chicken permitting process recommended by zoning board chairman Matt Plunkett.

Click here for the full agenda for this afternoon's meeting. And remember -- there's no 7 p.m. meeting tonight, just the 3 p.m. 

Williamsville looking for volunteers

The Village of Williamsville is looking for volunteers to help prepare for its Friday night "Picture Main Street" party on Spring Street.

Those interested should show up at the water mill on Spring Street at 3 p.m. today to help place some temporary plants along the proposed streetscape on Spring.

Friday's party, hosted by the Eagle House, runs from 6 to 9 p.m. and includes live music and "walk-around food."

More information on Saturday's party can be found here

Williamsville village meeting outdoors tonight

Nobody likes being cooped up in a meeting room on a precious summer night, and those attending the Williamsville Village Board meeting tonight won't have to be.

The board will take the rare step tonight of hosting its 7:30 p.m. meeting outside, on Spring Street in front of the Williamsville Water Mill. 

It's part of an effort to get village residents and visitors pumped up about some streetscape changes that should make it easier to help pedestrians walk through the village despite the heavy car traffic. 

Here's this weekend's story that delves into the most recent proposed changes. For a full schedule of this week's events on Main Street, click here.

The board's 6 p.m. work session will be held indoors, though, at Village Hall, 5565 Main St. Read the village meeting agendas here and here

"Taking back Main Street" in Williamsville

We've written about Williamsville's attempts (here, here and here) to make Main Street more pedestrian-friendly. 

But village leaders will soon be taking those efforts to a whole new level. Not content to wait for the state to OK the changes, they are organizing a preview of sorts, with crosswalks and other new elements temporarily painted onto the roadway. A weekend festival will also close the street to traffic. 

Take a look at the graphic below courtesy of the village's Facebook page:



About all that money in Amherst

It's a good problem to have -- a town comes into so much money that it's hard to keep it all straight.

But here's our attempt at clarifying exactly how much money Amherst will receive from the State Insurance Fund, as noted in today's front-page story.

The State Insurance Fund will pay a total settlement of $31 million -- and as Amherst Supervisor Barry Weinstein said, not a penny more.

Of that $31 million, roughly $17 million will go to the town and $10 million to the town's insurance agency, Granite State Insurance.

That leaves between $3 million and $4 million in interest payments. The town says it should receive all those, but Granite wants them, as well. So the two sides will fight over the $4 million through arbitration or in the courts. 

Today's story referred to a roughly $4 million "profit" the town will make on the settlement. Here's what that means: The town spent $13 million of its savings to pay the verdict of the Bissell injury case. It is getting reimbursed the $17 million, thus a "profit" of $4 million, which includes mostly legal fees.

I hope that clears things up. In these austere times, it's not a bad problem to have. 

Update: Amherst's 'major announcement'

UPDATE: Amherst wins settlement of millions in "Bissell case"


Amherst Supervisor Barry A. Weinstein will make a "major announcement" this afternoon regarding town finances and a controversial lawsuit, his staff said this morning.

The announcement centers around the "Bissell case," a legal dispute with the state insurance agency that has dragged on for years.

We reported recently that the lawsuit has been a drain on the town's otherwise sunny financial outlook. Judges have even advised the town on how to collect the money it says it is owed. 

Sources say the announcement this afternoon will be a positive one for the town. Weinstein missed last night's Town Board meeting because of an unexpected downtown meeting regarding the case, so this may be the break the town has been looking for. 


Some angst in Amherst tonight?

Two residents' groups are expected to pack Amherst Town Hall tonight in opposition of two separate development projects.

Neighbors who live behind Buffalo Academy of the Sacred Heart have applied for a historic designation of the 1930s campus. As noted in today's story, they aren't happy about plans for a gym overlooking their homes.

The second group -- likely to be much louder -- is the Livingston Parkway Association, a group of residents who for months have opposed plans for a Hyatt hotel between I-290 and their spacious homes. The group has even hired a Los Angeles public relations firm to get out its message with this news release, sent out earlier today.

Both meetings start at roughly 7 p.m. so I'll try to be two places at once to keep you updated. 

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