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Kulpa has full agenda as he begins term as Amherst supervisor

Mike Desmond

Incoming Amherst Supervisor Brian Kulpa says his town has a great research university, two other colleges and no Wi-Fi in Town Hall. Just one of a lot of big and small issues to deal with in 2018.

Kulpa takes over as supervisor at the Town Board meeting Tuesday night. On tap will be a long agenda, including filling all sorts of positions for the many boards that run so much of the town.

Town officials are going to be seeing a lot of meetings, since the new supervisor is planning weekly department head meetings, as he moves from a private sector planner to a public sector leader who can force new planning efforts - and promises there will be.

He says there will be some changes all this year, with more in the budget for next year, as he reshapes town government. Kulpa says he starts with some real assets and some real needs.

"There's no Wi-Fi in Town Hall. This is the second largest municipality in Western New York. It has  130,000-plus residents, but it's set up in a 1980s-1990s model," he says, "and we have to break out of that and we have to get out to 2050. We have to be ahead of everybody else."

Kulpa says some things will be visible to the public right away, like planning efforts in many neighborhoods to see what residents want and not just what some master plan says. He says there are serious infrastructure deficiencies that have to be addressed.

"Really, it's time to start to evolve," Kulpa says. "So if Western New York is going to evolve, I'm here to say the Town of Amherst is going to be part of that evolution."

Kulpa says he wants to build on all of the assets the town has and do even better to attract the millennials as they decide to have families and settle down in their own homes. He cites the perennial traffic problem on Main Street, after years as Williamsville mayor dealing with that section of Main.

"Picture Main Street. The village undertaking. We're doing a streetscape on Main. Has anybody talked about what Snyder's Main Street ought to look like?" he asks. "Snyder's left with what we have currently. They're going to be left with a four-lane superhighway with a turning line running right down the center of what is basically a small hamlet. Is that what people want?"

He also has been talking to Tonawanda Town Supervisor Joe Emminger about jointly re-doing Niagara Falls Boulevard. The new Amherst supervisor says there has to be more planning for transit-oriented development, with a potential Metro Rail extension in the works.

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.
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