Village to heighten retail focus

by Emily Faracca, Amherst Bee

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The Village of Williamsville Board has taken some steps to fill retail gaps as officials look to round out the accessibility of the area.

At Monday’s meeting, Mayor Brian Kulpa gave a brief update about construction on Spring Street, which resumed March 14.

“Overall it’s had a pretty decent start,” said Kulpa. “It’s been very well thought out, and they’ve been productive.” Construction has involved creation of a plaza at the water mill, which will be used for public gatherings, as well as the abatement of storm-water runoff. The plaza portion of the project is complete.

Also, Trustee Al Yates introduced an agreement between Momentum Public Affairs and the Village of Williamsville, subject to review by the village attorney, related to the Main Street corridor.

According to Kulpa, the agreement follows a study done on the corridor a few years ago looking at housing, retail and hotels. The results of the study suggested a heightened focus on the continuity of retail on Main Street.

As a first-step response, the village assigned the Buffalo State Planning Department to perform a retail survey studying the Main Street corridor to determine space and service availability.

The second step will authorize Momentum Public Affairs, which specializes in public relations, to relay the results of the survey to retailers locally, regionally or nationally.

“Here’s where we have opportunities to plug some gaps,” said Kulpa. “If you want a good retail district, you need to have some of those gaps filled.”

A presentation will be given to the Amherst Industrial Development Agency on April 1 with the results of the study done by Buffalo State.

“This is putting the market study to work,” said Trustee Chris Duquin.

During Trustee Dan DeLano’s report, several crosswalk locations were authorized to be added to the official village crosswalk listing. A complete list can be found on the village website at village.

The board also approved the adoption of a law that added requirements for obtaining a demolition permit.

According to Kulpa, this would prevent parcels of property from remaining vacant for extended periods of time.

“What we’re saying is, if you’re going to apply for a demolition permit, we’re not interested in having a blank permit that allows you to strip a parcel of its buildings,” said Kulpa. “You need to come in with a plan.”

The resolution will also allow the surrounding properties of developing lots to maintain their value, according to Kulpa.

In another matter, the board approved the creation of a Sustainability Task Force, which would address problems of storm-water runoff.

According to Kulpa’s resolution, storm-water infiltration and runoff is a significant problem affecting municipalities throughout Western New York.

The task force would comprise five local residents who would meet regularly to examine and research solutions, to eventually develop and publish a sustainability plan.

According to Kulpa, members of the Tree Committee identified areas requiring long-term improvement relating to the issue of storm-water runoff that were “well beyond our normal tree planting program,” Kulpa said.

A number of residents have expressed interest in the committee, and Kulpa outlined the next step as generating a project charter and a list of names of residents committed to working on a sustainability plan.

“We hope to deliver a project charter within a month and populate that committee,” Kulpa said.

The next regular Village Board meeting will be held at 7:30 p.m. Monday, April 11, at Village Hall, 5565 Main St.

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