You can't always have what you want.
For months, neighborhood opponents of the $44 million Amherst Town Centre project proposed by Benderson Development have criticized the developer for not being more forthcoming with information. The fact that Benderson significantly changed the project's design since it was unveiled last year only fueled that criticism.
But when Benderson finally held an open house for any interested residents Wednesday and made all its project engineers, architects, lawyers and top officials available to answer questions, Fairways Group opponents urged their members to boycott the "propaganda session."
"Fragmenting people as they come in, where they are at different tables at different rooms, is not an open, public meeting," said Fairways Group spokeswoman Judy Ferraro earlier this week. "And at this point, this is what we deserve to have."
Benderson Vice President Eric Recoon and Todd Benderson, head of Benderson Development's Buffalo office, said Wednesday they were resentful of pressure from the Fairways Group and some town officials to change their Open House format.
"I feel like I'm inviting you to my house for a dinner party and you're telling me what to serve," Recoon said.
Clearly, Fairways Group members had hoped Benderson officials would be forced to field and defend public criticism of their project in public-hearing type format. When they didn't get their way, most chose to stay home rather than challenge Benderson officials on their turf.
That meant that while every major media outlet covered Benderson's Open House, not a single Fairways Group representative made it on the air or in the newspaper. Given that the opposition has accused the broader media of a pro-Benderson bias, they didn't help their own cause Wednesday night.
Benderson Development put up a special Web page Wednesday so residents can view and print copies of Amherst Town Centre information provided at the Open House event. There is also a site to get the Fairways Group's perspective on Benderson's project.
--- Sandra Tan