If there’s one thing Williamsville loves as much as its iconic old water mill on the bank of Ellicott Creek, it’s the ice cream and chocolate from one of its favorite village sweet shops.
That much was clear on Tuesday, as Sweet Jenny’s Ice Cream, the popular Williamsville establishment at 5732 Main St., was the popular choice to locate in the Williamsville Water Mill at 56 East Spring St.
More than two dozen people showed up at Village Hall for a public hearing on how the village should use the 1811 water mill. Several residents showed their support for bringing in Sweet Jenny’s, as proposed by owners Howard and Tara Cadmus.
“We would be very happy to work with Howard and Tara and Sweet Jenny’s,” said Mary Lowther, a board member of the Williamsville Farmers’ Market, which sets up along Spring Street. “They would be a real good fit for the Farmers’ Market.”
“You own the building. Somebody wants to lease it,” said Burke Forester, owner of Nickel City Cheese & Mercantile on Spring. “Why wouldn’t you?”
“They’re very trustworthy, very honest and I figure they would do a wonderful job,” said Deborah Haney, former owner of the ice cream parlor. The Village Board made no decision Tuesday, but its members hope to hear more from the public in the coming weeks.
Williamsville owns the mill and two adjacent buildings after rescuing them from foreclosure in 2005, but the historic structure has remained vacant for more than five years. Williamsville still is talking with Iskalo Development Corp. about redeveloping the property, but the owners of Sweet Jenny’s submitted their proposal last week leading to Tuesday’s public hearing.
“What we’re trying to figure out as a board is where we’re going from here,” said Mayor Brian J. Kulpa. “We have to make some decisions on how to move forward.”
Williamsville officials also were questioned by residents about how much the mill has cost the village. They wanted to make sure taxpayers would get their money back if the mill were to be leased or sold.
Officials said they would tally those amounts, but estimated the village has sunk about $800,000 to $1 million into the old mill, which includes historic preservation grant money from the state. “If the village is going to lease the building at a loss year after year after year, that may change some people’s opinion,” said Victor Paquet of Howard Avenue.