Clarence puts Parkland offer on Agenda again
Developer offering to sell town 22.3-acre woodland tract for $ 50,000
The Clarence Town Board will again discuss a developer's offer to sell a
22.3-acre woodland tract for parkland when it meets Wednesday.
The parcel off Goodrich Road offered by developer Frank Parlato for
$50,000, has 3,000 feet of frontage along Tonawanda Creek in a wooded
site suitable for nature study and other "passive recreation."
But it may not be accepted.
On Aug. 19, the board split along party lines in an informal discussion.
"No partisan reason for that," said Supervisor Irving W. "Skip" Grenzebach,
who was joined by fellow Republican Councilmen Daniel A. Herberger and
John F. Love in the informal vote. Daniel A. Gregorio and Anne L. Case, the
Democratic councilmen, wanted to buy it.
Parlato has since lobbied the Republican party -- at its annual picnic -- in an
effort to "bring the issue to the people," Grenzebach said.
"But I just discussed the matter with a senior citizens council and and asked
their thoughts, and there was no enthusiasm for this," the supervisor said.
Parlato, who has "been a taxpayer in Clarence since 1969," has offered the
parcel to the town twice. In 1989 he offered a 25-acre tract for $89,000 -- or
about $3,500 an acre. This year, after splitting off three lots, he offered the
remaining 22.3 acres to the community for $50,000, about what he has
invested in the land and about half its appraised value, he said.
"I'm for it for a couple of reasons," Gregorio told The Buffalo News. "When
he offered the land in 1989 I walked it -- it did not have the nature trail cut
into it then -- and I saw its value as a kind of nature preserve. The town
doesn't have any access to a real waterway, and the creek is canoeable up
"And even though we have six parks, there is no park near there now, nothing
above Clarence Center Road. This piece of property is perfect."
Clarence has bond money for parkland acquisition, Gregorio said, adding that
the price of about $2,250 an acre seems right, too. "I know that undeveloped
residential land in that area has sold for $5,000 per acre," he said.
Councilwoman Case told The Buffalo News: "Communities discover too late
the importance of setting aside land for preservation. This is an excellent, and
cost-effective way, to avoid this type of oversight."
"It's a beautiful piece of property, and I have nothing against it," said
Grenzebach, "except we don't have money to throw around, right now . . . I
don't think the timing is right.
Grenzebach added that Parlato purchased the tract for $58,000 and raised
$61,000 from the sale of three parcels.
"If he was so interested in preserving it, he could donate it.," he said. "He'd get
a good receipt for the land value and that would be worth more against taxes
than the cash. I approached him on that before our Aug. 19 meeting, but he
said he needed the money."
Since the tract is not designated as a wetland nor is it in the floodplain it could
be subdivided into prime, wooded lots with access to a picturesque stream.
But Parlato said he wants it to become a park because of his commitment to
better land use.
"This is . . . vitally important to the future," he said. "My intention is not to
make this a political thing. . . . I am thinking of the future of the town and
public access to important areas.
"If this was a piece of the Brazilian rain forest, we'd be pontificating to death,"
Parlato added, "but it is our town -- so we don't do anything about it."
These are similar to sentiments he expressed on the commentary page in The
Buffalo News July 21 when he urged fellow developers and planners to set
aside portions of new developments for forest with each town devoting -- at a
minimum -- one-quarter of its acreage as a permanent forest reserve."
At that time Parlato was beginning to sell lots in Hidden Hollow, in the Town
of Hamburg following a pattern he first used in Clarence, he said.
"This is not as financially lucrative as total subdivisions, but it needs to be
"At Clarence Hollow I took 18 acres, reduced the density to one-tenth what
had been proposed, going from 28 lots to seven large ones, and I saved the
area around Ransom Creek -- an ash and maple forest, which was attached
to the seven lot owners."
When they took their straw poll in August, the three Republicans on the
Clarence Board did not consider such idealism. They cited hard economic
times and a growing sentiment among residents that Clarence already has
enough parks. Grenzebach has not changed his view since then.
Love, who cast the deciding vote against the purchase, said it was a tough
call, "but we have to strike a balance between parkland for the future and real
needs the community has right here, right now."
Contact Frank Parlato Jr.