AMHERST – Members of Amherst town council are hopeful something will be done soon to remediate the site of a major downtown fire in late August.
After agreeing to sell the former police department to businessman Jeff Bembridge for $2, council members expressed concern with the length of time it will take to fill in the hole created when the Windsor and Black Block buildings burned.
“If the property is not developed right away, at least it should be backfilled and grass grown on the site,” Coun. Robert Angel said during a special meeting of council on Wednesday. “I would hate to see a hole left there for a couple of years.”
Soon after the fire department completed its investigation of the blaze that left about 40 homeless, the debris was cleared and the property surrounded by a fence.
Coun. Terry Rhindress is hoping the new council will be able to sit down with the property owner to discuss potential development of the site.
Amherst CAO Greg Herrett said there isn’t much the town can do about the site at present. He said it would be something that could eventually be addressed through the dangerous and unsightly premises process.
Herrett said the developer was probably waiting for the town to make a decision on the former police station before proceeding.
“At this point in time the town has no role in that property unless it became dangerous or unsightly,” Herrett said. “I believe the decision we made today was a milestone in the mind of the developer and I would expect he would take some steps really soon.”
There has been no indication of any plans for the property, although there was speculation immediately after the fire that the building would be replaced with another residential complex.