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A candidate for consolidation

   Richard Gontarz lost the election for Alden village mayor last week. The fact that he favors consolidating the town and the village might not be the only reason people didn't vote for him, but it's safe to say that position didn't help.

   If government consolidation is ever going to occur, it will have to start with the voters.

   Would you vote for a candidate who said he would work to eliminate one layer of government in your community?

  --- Bruce Andriatch

Getting Amherst courses up to par

   It's bad news all around for the Amherst-run golf courses. They're losing money. They're in shoddy shape. And now, the town wants golfers to cough up more money to help close the course operating deficits.

   Town Board members say that by raising fees modestly, the town will have more revenue to fix some of the more serious problems plaguing the courses - like the lack of an irrigation system at the Audubon Golf Course.

   But some worry golfers will go elsewhere to play their rounds.

   How bad are things on Amherst municipal courses? And is a fee increase necessary to make the needed improvements?

  --- Sandra Tan

Have gun - Will try to help

   The fear of the school resource officer idea was that having police officers in schools would create the academic version of a police state.

   The reality appears to be quite different, as seen in my column today through the experience of Trooper Joseph DePlato in the Iroquois School District. The key word in his job title is "resource" because the district - with his blessing - uses him for everything.

   But is it worth the cost? Shouldn't police resources be used to fight crime where it's occurring as opposed to breaking up fights and keeping the peace in the schools? Or is it a better use of your money to put police officers in a place where they might be able to prevent crime?

  --- Bruce Andriatch

   

On the street where you live

   If you’ve lived in Western New York for a long time, the idea that there are two corners where both street signs say “Delaware” seems perfectly normal. And now, having looked into how that came to be – and writing a column about it - it actually does make sense.

  I dug deep into my memory and into Google maps to come up with some other street oddities for the piece, but I’m sure I’ve left some out.

   Any other candidates out there for unusual intersections and examples of two streets with the same name so close together?

   --- Bruce Andriatch

End of the line for the trail

   The Town of Hamburg has secured a state grant of $243,000 and come up with plans to run a bicycle path on public property and right-of-ways through the Hoover Beach neighborhood.

   It would be part of a plan that would connect Buffalo to Evangola State Park, or Fort Niagara to Erie, Pa., for those with grander visions.

   But now, several years into the planning process, the association that represents Hoover Beach says it wants nothing to do with the project (which also had the bids come in at $100,000 more than expected, in part because of project delays).

   The opponents of the trail appear to have a majority on the Hamburg Town Board on their side, including the two new members who helped give Republican Supervisor Steven Walters his first majority.

   What do you think? Did residents wait too long to voice their opposition? Or was the previous Democratic Town Board majority running roughshod over Hoover Beach residents?

   --- Elmer Ploetz

The steep commitment of making Huntley clean

  A couple of weeks before Gov. Eliot L. Spitzer took office, his predecessor gave conditional approval to NRG Energy for a clean-coal power plant at its Huntley Station in the Town of Tonawanda.

   Cutting-edge technology to capture and store carbon dioxide -- reducing greenhouse emissions -- does not come cheap. And 15 months later, it's not getting any cheaper.

  NRG officials said Thursday they need $430 million to close the gap before the $1.5 billion project can proceed. Federal incentives may help, but what kind of commitment should the state make?

  -- Janice L. Habuda

   

The Centre of controversy

   The proposed $44 million Amherst Town Centre development, proposed for the 32-acre, lead-contaminated Buffalo Shooting Club property on Maple road has been a target of both praise and criticism in recent months. 

   Benderson says the privately funded project will bring in $1.6 million in much-needed school, county and town property tax revenue; clean up a toxic brownfield; and provide Western New York with a one-of-kind "lifestyle center" that will offer a mix of retail, hotel, residential, office and green space.

  But opponents with the Fairways Boulevard Group cite severe traffic congestion problems and the overall unsuitability of a high-density project for the area. The group represents roughly two dozen active members and reaches out to more than 200 other neighborhood residents living in subdivisions across from the gun club property.

   To what extent should the needs of neighborhood property owners be considered by the town, which has final rezoning authority in this matter?

    --- Sandra Tan

Monday, Monday

   It's not easy to make Lancaster Supervisor Robert Giza speechless, but he almost was Monday when I asked him if he knew why so many town and village boards meet on that day.

    "It's been that way for at least 27 years here," he said.

  There's nothing wrong with that. But there is something wrong when a village resident has to choose between a town or a village meeting because they are both held the same night. As I noted in my column today, some people in East Aurora want to try and fix the problem by holding the meetings on different nights.

   The law says the meetings have to be open to the public and - with some exceptions - they are. But don't elected officials owe it to the people who put them in office to schedule them at a time when the greatest number of people can sit in? Or is public interest in meetings so limited that it doesn't matter when they are held?

  --- Bruce Andriatch