Grand Island Needs an Updated Master Plan

Heron Pointe's 232 new apartments, now under construction, look similar to many apartment complexes in the pro-growth, developer friendly, Town of Amherst. At Heron Pointe, one bedrooms are listed for rent starting at $1050 per month. Two bedrooms start at $1325 per month.

Heron Pointe’s 232 new apartments, now under construction, look similar to many apartment complexes in the pro-growth, developer friendly, Town of Amherst. At Heron Pointe, one bedrooms are listed for rent starting at $1050 per month. Two bedrooms start at $1325 per month.

(Editor’s note: Town of Grand Island Supervisor Nate McMurray sends out often lengthy, very well written and informative emails rather regularly to the public about the Town of Grand Island. We believe McMurray is a sincere and earnest man in a world of political cravens and is trying to do what’s best for Grand Island. We are also aware that he works as an attorney/voice president for Delaware North. In our opinion there is no conflict of interest with McMurray being the Supervisor of Grand Island and his employment with Delaware North.

However, the Reporter has been highly critical of Delaware North, from their rather ruthless management of concessions in the Niagara Falls State Park, to their astonishing Cuomo subsidized but stalled WonderFalls Project to their unprincipled attempt to steal traditional names in Yosemite National Park and elsewhere through bizarre trademark claims [look for our upcoming story on what trademark names have been hijacked in Niagara Falls]. However we wish to make clear that McMurray, who we have interviewed several times concerning Grand Island, did not submit this excerpted article directly to the Reporter for publication. We received a version of it that was about triple in length and offered a fascinating insight into the history of Buffalo. We have created a digest version of his emailed report under fair use and for the benefit of our Grand Island readers who are not on McMurray’s  email list.)

By Nate McMurray

Town of Grand Island Supervisor

Many developers – eager to sink their teeth into Grand Island – have visited me over the last year asking questions and chatting me up while drooling over maps and blueprints.

To some pitching apartments, I have been less than hospitable.

Developers are already here  

There are a few large developments that were put into motion and approved before I came into office by the previous Supervisor and Town Board.

Here is a synopsis of three major projects that were long in the works.

Heron Pointe Project – across from Dunkin’ Donuts

Nine 8-unit buildings are under construction. Four 8-unit buildings should be ready to occupy by the end of the year. The second 26-unit building was started last week, plus a rec center. This means hundreds of new units (232) will soon be complete and occupied.

Gun Creek (Whitehaven Rd.)

Phase 1 plan shows 19 Single Family Lots with multiple phases planned.  Road and utilities being installed at this time.

Elderwood Independent Living Facility (Grand Island Blvd.-North of Bedell Rd.)

Three new buildings – all three stories, one with 54 units, one with 16 units and a rec center and one with 30 units are all on their way.

We need a Master Plan to stop bad growth

Let me say very clearly; I do not want any more apartment complexes.

Grand Island should never become Amherst light. I’m against big box stores too.

I want Grand Island to stay a unique, small town forever.

I want to enhance our standard of living through recreational development, local agriculture, and eco-tourism. I will support projects that make sense to achieve those goals.

But the building of endless new apartment complexes (like some local leaders have wanted and encouraged) is not a solution; it’s a problem.

Even if there was some advantage to endless development, our infrastructure (or lack thereof) cannot accommodate large-scale growth, not to mention our schools being unable to accommodate flocks of more kids.

After all, we are an Island.

Until we have an updated Master Plan—which rethinks previous zoning mistakes—we will legally have little power to stop or control development.

Do you know that, previously, the Town’s zoning laws were changed to encourage apartments at the center of town and along our waterfront?

A Master Plan is not about encouraging growth. It’s about controlling it. It’s about preserving our forests and understanding our assets and our needs. Finally, it’s about preventing outside developers from making a buck building horrible developments that will fade, which we do not need—and then running off to their next victim.

We are now working on such a plan. We have not had an updated one in years.

Our lack of legal protection is what led to the bulldozer invasion.

The Master Plan is something we are creating to preserve and enhance what Grand Island IS, and should always remain: a beautiful, unique, small town.

In 2017, we will complete the Master Plan.

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