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Opening the floodgates

   A 117-patio home community in Amherst is gaining attention because of one distinct amenity it has that no other development in town shares - gates.

   As noted in Wednesday's story, the new Greythorne development, off of Main Street between Youngs Road and Hampton Hill Drive, will have unmanned gates at the entry points to the private development, allowing only the residents who live there access to their community.

   This development would be the first of its kind in Amherst, and the largest in Western New York. Since the story has run, some have already e-mailed their strong feelings on the matter.

   Said one Williamsville woman:

  "I work around the corner from the proposed gated community.  I frequently take an hourlong walk at lunch and enjoy that area.  I think it's disgusting that streets where people might walk would be closed off.  It is no wonder that Americans lack for physical exercise... if safe streets are inaccessible and others lack sidewalks.  If I lived in the neighborhoods adjacent to that community, I'd be raving mad too - to have your own neighbors lock you out is absolutely insulting."

   Another resident who would live near Greythorne said it's unfair to lump it in with other gated communities. Many nearby residents believe the gates will help alleviate cut-through traffic problems.

   "As president of Hampton Estates Condominum, I feel that most of the objections were about
water pressure and blasting, rather than the gated community. When I think of a gated community, I think of the places in Florida or Virginia where there are walls around the entire complex with a little guard shack and a rent-a-cop at the front."

   The developer, Marrano/Marc Equity, and some Town Board members, pointed out that people have the right to make different housing choices and to select from a variety of housing offerings. Greythorne is a private, upscale community, and the people who will live there will bear a greater road maintenance and liability burden in exchange for a little more privacy and security. That's a reasonable trade-off, they argue.

   That's a debate that's likely to continue.

  --- Sandra Tan

The redistricting dilemma

   Tell parents their children might be going to a different school next year, and you hear about it.

    About 100 attended an Orchard Park School Board meeting last week when a plan to redistrict the four elementary schools was presented, and 125 showed up Tuesday night to talk more about it.

    The talk was the SIMS equivalent of NIMBY— Not In My Back Yard. SIMS – not the popular computer game with simulated families, but everyone wants to Stay In My School. That’s not surprising. Who likes change? Most adults sure don’t.

    One parent said kids wouldn’t mind changing school buildings, that they would find the cafeteria and the gym fast enough, but it would be a lot easier if they had the familiar faces of their friends there.

    Instead of being dismayed at the opposition, maybe board members could take heart that parents like the schools their children are attending and the education they are receiving. It could be worse. What if everyone was clamoring to leave every school for a better one?

  --- Barbara O'Brien

A walk on the wild side

   If you walked everywhere when you were a kid, and you now live in a place where being a pedestrian could be a life-and-death decision, you might find yourself getting nostalgic over sidewalks.

   You don't know what you've got 'til it's gone.

   It's true that our lives and our lifestyles are more about cars and driving than they were 30 or 40 years ago. That's why roads keep getting wider and sidewalks are disappearing.

   But not everyone has a car. And some people who have them like to walk.

   Is there any way to accommodate the walker in our modern world? Or is the sidewalk destined to be just another word at the end of a question that starts with, "Remember when?"

  --- Bruce Andriatch

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