Amherst oversight absent on Sacred Heart parking

On Nov. 26, the Amherst Planning Board held a special meeting regarding the absence of any parking for the double gym complex being built behind Sacred Heart Academy on Main Street. Due to the Thanksgiving holiday and the incomplete details of the proposed new parking plan, 15 requests for a postponement by Amherst residents and the Town Board were sent to the Planning Board. Chairman Jonathan O’Rourke denied the postponement because of a “construction schedule” issue.

The town Planning Department presented a new 133-car parking plan to be built entirely on Sacred Heart Academy’s land. The revised lower requirement for parking was determined by Sacred Heart. The new daily need of parking by faculty, staff and students only was presented. The new gym complex, under construction, was not included and required no parking spaces in spite of its 500-seat capacity and planned tournaments.

This new proposed parking lot on Sacred Heart’s land, however, will not be built. As described by O’Rourke, these 133 parking spaces were to be “paper spaces commonly used by the Amherst Planning and Building Departments.” Daemen College was given as an example.

The new parking plan was approved unanimously by the Amherst Planning Board.

Recapping: Sacred Heart was issued building permits in April with no parking available. Sacred Heart was issued a stop-work order in September for no parking available. Sacred Heart will now continue to build its double gym with no parking available. The Planning Board has approved 133 “paper” parking spaces that meet Amherst’s town construction ordinances requirement. Where is the oversight?

Kurt Gilbert