Overflow crowd protests plan to demolish neighborhood
By BARBARA O'BRIEN
News Southtowns Bureau
Chanting, "Our homes are not for sale," residents of Cedargrove Heights protested outside Cheektowaga Town Hall on Monday night. Inside Town Hall, they told the Town Board what they think of a proposal to tear down their homes to make way for a new mixed-use community.
"We did ask for your help numerous times," said Lee Dowski. "We did not ask you to help yourselves to our homes."
Developer Dominic Piestrak has proposed building 300 single-family homes, 175 brownstones and 130 row houses as well as businesses at Cedargrove. The existing homes and businesses would have to be demolished. While the plan is preliminary and has not received Town Board approval, Piestrak said he would like to pay owners above the fair market value for their property.
Supervisor Dennis H. Gabryszak praised residents for attending Monday's Town Board meeting and showing their concern for their neighborhood, but he said there aren't answers yet to all of their questions.
"You really need a time frame of what's going to happen," he said.
When residents asked which board members oppose the proposal, one council member, Thomas M. Johnson Jr., raised his hand. He said the Town Board would discuss the proposal soon.
"We're going to review telling that developer, "That's it,' " Johnson said to applause.
The overflow crowd filled the 100 or so seats in the Council Chambers and spilled into the hall, cheering as residents spoke.
"We stand with the residents against this development," said the Rev. Dorothy B. Pearman, pastor of Maryvale Drive Presbyterian Church. "It's a justice issue."
Under the plan, the church would be moved to another street within the development.
"The reality is, the majority will not be able to buy into the new community," Pearman said.
"We are low to moderate income," said Dowski. "We don't want to change that."
When asked about a town-owned property in the neighborhood on Winwood Court with rats and broken windows, Gabryszak directed Building Inspector Thomas Adamczak to review the property today and come up with suggestions. Adamczak said Monday night the property could be demolished or cleaned up and its windows covered with boards.