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Wheatfield considering town center

by jmaloni
Fri, Apr 13th 2012 02:20 pm

by Susan Mikula Campbell

Right now if you pull up to the Wheatfield Town Hall campus off Church Road, there's three buildings - Town Hall, the community center and the youth center - plus a lot of undeveloped property beyond them.

A Town Center Focus Group, which began meetings in 2009, presented five different concepts for possible use of that property at Monday's Town Board meeting.

"So many communities have a town center. Wheatfield doesn't have that," said Melissa Germann, chairman of the focus group. "The overall mission is to bring activity to this area of town."

 The town owns 35 acres of former farmland parallel to the existing buildings, which added to the current property totals 62 acres. The property extends west to Witmer Road and north to the existing Alder Creek subdivision.

One plan would develop commercial properties with residences above and/or senior housing. The second plan focuses on recreation with lots of multi-use recreation space, soccer fields, baseball diamonds and possibly an ice skating rink or bocce court.

The third, or town square center plan, suggests passive recreation areas, lots of parking, a senior resort community, farmers market and commercial properties with residences above.

The fourth plan is a mixed-use recreation, retail and residential area, possibly adding a town library. The fifth plan looks at "smart growth" higher density residences, businesses, including a grocery store, a library, walkways and green areas and maybe even a three- or four-hole golf course.

Germann expects the plans to continue to change and evolve. The group still needs to have professional drawings done and Town Board approval before meeting with developers. The focus group has a proposal from a local engineering firm to do the drawings that it can present to the board, she said.

Town Attorney Bob O'Toole also noted that a local architect might be interested in doing pro bono work to create a drawing of one of the plans.

In other matters:

•Town Budget Director Ed Mongold reported that, for the second year in a row, town revenues have exceeded expenses and only the fire protection district fund still shows a deficit.

"The town is doing much, much better financially than two years ago," he said.

•The board approved a contract to upgrade the town's microwave system to Transwave at a price of $31,536, contingent upon approval from Global Tower Partners to co-locate on the GTP cell tower. The tower is on town property and co-location was part of the company's contract with the town.

Councilman Larry Helwig said the new network will connect the highway, water and recreation buildings with Town Hall for more reliable and protected service (4.9 instead of 2.4 gigahertz) for payroll, financial matters and email.

•The board approved adding a fence law section to town code, as well as amending the sign law section of the code to add provisions regarding rear projection electronic message display signs. Both items were reviewed at the March 26 meeting and details can be found on the town's website.

•At its last meeting, the board approved retaining the Magavern, Magavern and Grimm to represent the town in action brought by the Kiwanis Activities Corp. Supervisor Bob Cliffe explained that possible litigation involves ownership of property formerly used by the Oppenheim Zoological Society, which O'Toole also represents.

•The next Wheatfield Town Board meeting will be at 7:30 p.m. April 23.

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