Weekly Feature

2017-12-07 / Front Page

Discussion continues on future of Tannery Brook


East Aurora officials met on Monday with property owners in the Tannery Brook district, which will undergo repairs next summer to fix the sinkhole left in the Mikey Dee’s parking lot in early November.

The sinkhole occurred as a result of rotted piping in the culvert that ran underneath the parking lot, and the village is looking at options for fixing it.

“I think we had a good meeting,” said Village Administrator Bryan Gazda, explaining that in the 1980s work was done on two projects, one that added more parking and another that created the culvert in question.

The culvert, Gazda said, was built in 1983 and paid for by 11 property owners, who contributed 4 percent of the construction cost.

A special assessment district was created in 1987 to provide off-street parking for businesses, with 42 property owners paying for 43 percent of the project. The district was also divided into three tiers, with properties further from off-street parking paying less than those with convenient access to parking.

“I think the general consensus of the 11 property owners is they would like to see, because there is the benefit of the parking there, that the cost be shared across the greater spectrum than just that one,” observed Gazda.

However, questions remain as to how this would impact property owners who paid for parking during the initial construction but did not pay for the culvert project in 1987. One of these properties is the site of the former Frantz Furniture, located at 41 Buffalo Road. Currently, a Dollar General sits on the site, which tax records indicate is owned by 9274 Group Inc.

“The village attorney and I, we’ve looked at this, and [based on] some of the rationale that was used back then, I don’t know if we could go forth with using it today,” said Gazda, who along with other board members, questioned how the parking on the south side of Main Street would benefit the store, which is located several blocks from the parking lot near Tannery Brook.

Trustee Patrick Shea asked if the store would be willing to negotiate parking.

“Would Dollar General then make their parking available to the general public after hours as opposed to pay for other parking?”

“To me, when you're talking about parking and the portion they put in, I don’t think you're going to get 42 property owners that are going to feel that,” Gazda said.

“They benefit from that,” Shea continued.

“Correct,” said Gazda. “Why would [the developers] benefit from [parking] when they’ve got their own? How do we justify that?”

Gazda said that mulling over that issue could hold up a final decision for years, time the board does not have to waste.

He suggested the village focus on the business located on the south side of Main Street that do benefit from the parking lot before making a decision on creating an open channel, which was the original plan for the project back in the ’80s.

“That’s a conversation we had tonight; what is the possibility of going back to an open channel and diverting it to where we can get into the grassy area?” Gazda said. “And maybe you do lose some of the parking spots there.”

He said he believes most of the property owners at the meeting liked having the parking.

Trustees Ray Byrnes and Peter Mercurio suggested that if the board does go with an open channel plan, an effort should be made to incorporate it into the overall aesthetic of the village.

“I’d like to see some sort of plan where we actually use it as an attractive addition to the village as opposed to, like Ray said, just this ditch that people throw junk into,” Mercurio said.

The Village Board will meet with property owners again at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 9, at East Aurora Village Hall, 571 Main St., East Aurora.

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