County Legislators Balk at Selling 400-Acre Parcel of 'Banked' Land to Clarence for Town-Only Park
News Staff Reporter
November 06, 1996, Wednesday, CITY EDITION
Clarence officials want to buy county land for a town park, but some
Democratic county lawmakers objected to the idea Tuesday.
The county's 400-acre tract in Clarence is known as Beeman Creek and was
land-banked, along with scenic land in three other parts of the county, for
development in the next century.
The county acquired it for $ 90,000 in 1966, and the town wants to buy it
for $ 90,000 now and develop a town park for town residents alone.
"I consider attitudes like that to be bordering on bigotry," said Majority
Leader Albert DeBenedetti, D-Buffalo. "I take great offense at the notion
that we are going to sanction the development of a park that is going to
Legislator Gregory Olma, D-Buffalo, said barring all but Clarence residents
from the park is "totally unacceptable."
Legislature Chairman Charles M. Swanick, D-Kenmore, said the county has to
consider the "bigger picture."
"If this land is prime land and can be used for many purposes, our first
preference would be to have this available to Erie County residents," he
Clarence Supervisor Paul McCarthy said exclusive use of the Beeman Creek
site for Clarence is, indeed, what residents want.
McCarthy said Clarence would not refuse to go ahead if the county insists
that the park must admit all county residents.
It is clear that the county cannot sell the land to private developers but
not clear yet that it could go to a municipality, McCarthy said.
Thirty years ago, the Legislature banked major tracts of land with
outstanding natural features for future park development. Besides Beeman,
the land bank includes the Boston County Forest Reserve in Boston; Hunter's
Creek Park in Wales; and Franklin Gulf Park in Eden-North Collins.
None of the 2,728 land-banked acres is now open, Parks Commissioner James
"It's there for future generations, no doubt," he said. "But we (Erie
County) didn't grow, and we're not growing."
Legislator Michael Ranzenhofer, R-East Amherst, said Clarence residents are
concerned about increased traffic if Beeman Creek becomes a county park and
are exploring what they would have to pay the county to limit use of the
land to "passive" recreation, such as nature and snowmobile trails, skiing
"There will be a public forum after the first of the year," said
Naturalist-developer Frank Parlato Jr. said the value of 400 acres in fast
growing Clarence is probably $ 1.3 million, but he added that Beeman Creek
is too precious to sell.
"There will be very few 400-acre parcels available in the future, where we
can go out and enjoy the countryside," he said.
Parlato invites people interested in forming a public watchdog panel to get
in touch with him.
Earlier this year, Parlato offered to sell Clarence 23 acres along
Tonawanda Creek for $ 50,000. Town officials, without rejecting his offer,
turned to Beeman Creek.
Contact Frank Parlato Jr.