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Thread: Let the voters decide the burchfield's fate

  1. #1
    Member dtwarren's Avatar
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    Let the voters decide the burchfield's fate

    The issue of what to do with the Burchfield Nature and Art Center has resurfaced again when participation of the public has been curtailed by the various Executive Orders necessitated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

    The Center was closed in January 2017, it was only partially reopened in May of 2018. Councilman Bauer and Assemblyman Burke are dangling the potential to receive a $100,000 grant to restore and reopen the center. Even Assemblyman Burke says that this “process can be lengthy.” ( http://www.westseneca.net/applicatio...0319181706.pdf ). Not only is this process lengthy, it may not result in the Town getting this money.

    Even assuming that the Town will get this money, at some point down the line, it is not all the money needed to restore and reopen the Center. According to the various estimates it will cost somewhere between $300,000 and $900,000.

    Then we have the lawsuit by the Town against various designers, architects and engineers that designed, planned and built the Center. This action was dismissed last year on statute of limitations grounds. The Town appealed that decision and we are currently awaiting a decision from the Appellate Court. As of October 2018, the Town spent over $40,000 on this litigation through September 2018 before these appeals were undertaken, this sum is substantially more now. Even if the Town wins this appeal it will not result in a decision on the merits in the Town’s favor. It will simply restore the lawsuit for further proceedings. Even if this lawsuit is ultimately successful it will be years for any money to come to the Town for use in restoring and reopening the Center.

    What to do with this structure does not have to be decided now given the length of time that has passed since its initial shuttering. Let the voters of the Town make this decision, after all we will be the ones paying for whatever decision Is made on this issue. Put the following question on the general election ballot for the Town pursuant to Town Law 81(1)(b):

    “Shall the Town of West Seneca demolish the town structure located at 2001 Union Road known as the Burchfield Nature and Art Center?”

    If the vote passes, we demolish the building, if it fails, we work to restoring and reopening it. Let the voters decide this issue.
    “I own I am not a friend to a very energetic government. It is always oppressive.” – Thomas Jefferson, Letter to James Madison, 1787

  2. #2
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    That can be put on the ballot by circulation of a petition, right?

  3. #3
    Member dtwarren's Avatar
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    Yes, it can be petitioned for.
    “I own I am not a friend to a very energetic government. It is always oppressive.” – Thomas Jefferson, Letter to James Madison, 1787

  4. #4
    Member dtwarren's Avatar
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    Responses to a FOIL request confirms the position that 2001 Union Road is a Park "Burchfield Park" and the Town received State money on the representation that it is a park. So it confirms that the public use doctrine applies and that the town cannot alienate it without State Legislative authorization. It appears the BNAC as it was used violates this anti-alienation doctrine. This is why before we decide on whether or not we want to spend money on this structure we need to have a clear vision and not be inconsistent with the Public Use Doctoctrine,

    Here are the major points in history of what is now known as the BNAC.

    In February 1998 $70,000 was approved to come from the Building and Recreation Fee Trust Account to purchase 19 acres from Kasprzyk. Funding was originally planned to come from the Clean Air/Clean Water Bond Act. The application for the grant money and the Town still may receive it but removal of this contingency allowed the project to move forward.

    In April 1998 an additional 10.1 acres of vacant land at the rear of Island Park for $10,000 with funds from the Recreation Trust Fund.

    In May 1998 the Town Board passed a motion to “authorize and direct Supervisor Paul T. Clark of the Town of West Seneca to file an application for funds from the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation in accordance with the provisions of Title 9 of the Environmental Protection Act of 1993 and/or Title 3 of the Clean Water/Clean Air Bond Act, in an amount not to exceed $200,000 with the town committing a minimum of $210,000 in matching funds, and upon approval of said request to enter into and execute a project agreement with the state for such financial assistance to this Town of WestSeneca for the development of Burchfield Park located at the comer of Union Road and Clinton Street, West Seneca, New York.”

    In June 1998 the SEQR process was initiated for Burchfield Park Project and the Town of West Seneca designated itself as the lead agency. Also, $22,500 was approved for a change order for Nussbaumer & Clarke for development of a master plan for the Island Park Development project out of the funds from the 1996 Recreation Bond.

    In July 1998 The Town Board adopted a resolution determining that the Town of West Seneca Burchfield Park Development Project would be non-significance (Negative Declaration under SEQR). Also, “On the question, Supervisor Clark stated that this area will be dedicated to the memory of Charles Burchfield, a world famous painter who lived and worked in Gardenville, and it will be maintained as much as possible in its natural state.”

    In October 1998 payment in the amount of $5,701.85 was authorized to be paid to Dean & Barbour Associates for archeological investigations and report work on the Island Park project from the 1996 Recreation Bond.

    In May 1999 the Town Board passed a motion to reject all submitted bids for the construction of Burchfield Park – Phase 1. On the motion “Supervisor Clark stated that the bids submitted for the construction of Burchfield Park - Phase I were substantially in excess of engineering and architectural estimates and the Board felt it would be in the best interest of all residents to rebid this project.”

    In June 1999 the Town Board awarded various bids for the Burchfield Park Improvements Project.

    In July 1999 the Town Board passed a resolution that “Paul T. Clark, as Supervisor of the Town of West Seneca, New York, is hereby authorized and directed to file an application for funds from the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation in accordance with the provisions of Title 9 of the Environmental Protection Act of 1993 or Title 3 of the Clean Water/Clean Air Bond Act, in an amount not to exceed $388,950 and upon approval of said request, to enter into and execute a project agreement with the state for financial assistance to West Seneca for the construction of an amphitheater, stage, children's play and educational areas, overlook pavilion and a seasonal, removable footbridge in Burchfield Park.”

    In February 2001 the Town Board passed a resolution to “authorize and direct Supervisor Paul T. Clark of the Town of West Seneca, New York, to file an application for funds from the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation in accordance with the provisions of the 2001 Recreational Trails Program, in an amount not to exceed $30,000 with the town agreeing to commit $42,825 in cash and in kind goods and services as matching funds, and upon approval of said request, to enter into and execute a project agreement with the state for such financial assistance to the Town of West Seneca for the construction of a trail system in West Seneca's Burchfield Park.”

    In June 2002 the Town Board passed a resolution to “to authorize and direct Paul T. Clark, Supervisor of the Town of West Seneca, to file an application for funds from the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation in accordance with the provisions of Title 9 of the Environmental Protection Act of 1993 and Title 3 of the Clean Water/Clean Air Bond Act, in an amount not to exceed $112,230 and upon approval of said request to enter into and execute a project agreement with the State for such financial assistance to this town for development of Burchfield Park. Parks development funds will be used to construct an elevated canopy walkway system. The proposed project seeks to provide amenities in Burchfield Park to better serve the recreational needs of residents and to insure safe use of the park. As per state guidelines, the Town of West Seneca agrees to provide $113,600 in cash and in-kind goods and services, or 50 percent of the total allowable project costs of $225,830.”

    In April 2013 the Town Board authorized a bond to, among other things, “to construct a restroom and storage facility at Burchfield Park ("Burchfield Improvements")”

    See: https://www.scribd.com/document/4610...20200506101641
    “I own I am not a friend to a very energetic government. It is always oppressive.” – Thomas Jefferson, Letter to James Madison, 1787

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    Sounds like a park to me. But people have to diligent. In Amherst, certain town officials tried to peddle the entire Amherst Recreation Center to developers.

  6. #6
    Member dtwarren's Avatar
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    I have commenced an action that challenges the March 30, 2020 resolution of the West Seneca Town Board that purports to authorize the repair and reopening of the Burchfield Nature and Art Center located at 2001 Union Road.

    The action also seeks to have this land declared as park land subject to the public use doctrine. Declare certain past and intended uses of this property as being an alienation of it in violation of the public use doctrine.


    Warren v. West Seneca by Daniel T. Warren

    “I own I am not a friend to a very energetic government. It is always oppressive.” – Thomas Jefferson, Letter to James Madison, 1787

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