Big Tree residents wonder about clutter and other impacts of stadium construction (2023)

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michael peter

Jay Knavel acknowledges that living near the Buffalo Bills stadium presents some difficulties and interruptions.

He just hopes that the construction of a new stadium in Orchard Park, which will be directly opposite his property on Big Tree Road, won't cause too much noise.

The framework for the Bills' new stadium is in place with completion of a $1.4 billion, 30-year contract approaching

The framework for the Bills' new stadium project, which includes a 30-year lease and community benefits, was unanimously approved by the Erie County Stadium Corp on Monday. approved.

Knavel, a 25-year-old resident of his Orchard Park home and a volunteer firefighter, said he has been through many construction projects in his area of ​​work, and they have never been free of chaos for nearby residents. For him, that could mean years of cleaning the dirt out of his cars and his swimming pool.

"As much as we say these projects will be nice, clean and tidy, they never will be," he said. "I don't want to deal with it and I don't think any other resident will."

Knavel was one of two Big Tree Road residents who raised concerns about the construction of the stadium, which would be built opposite the current Highmark Stadium, across Abbott Road. An Orchard Park firefighter also requested additional training to enable local volunteers to better manage incidents at the stadium and the extensive services that will need to be provided during construction.

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In building the Bills stadium, the focus is on keeping local work and involving small businesses.

More than 500 representatives attended meetings for interested contractors, suppliers, vendors and professional service providers in Buffalo, Syracuse and Albany last month. That does not include the crowd standing by for Tuesday's session, the second in Buffalo since November, at the Buffalo and Erie County Public Library.

A total of ten people spoke on the ECC South campus on Thursday during the approximately 35-minute hearing, which was essentially the public's last chance to comment on the new Bills Stadium design. Last Monday, Erie County Stadium Corp. nearly closed the deal for the $1.4 billion stadium by approving the design framework.

Stan Gasiewicz, who has lived on the Hamburg side of the Big Tree for 40 years, is still concerned that the project will have a negative impact on utilities, water pressure and sewage in the area, and has spoken out about the concerns. to and from the stadium.

"Big Tree Road will be very busy," he said.

Knavel likes to live close to the stadium, but said he had to listen to backup alarms regularly before and after each game and that dump trucks and front loaders were on call 24 hours a day.

"My sleep is as important as anyone else's," he said. "You have to show the owners a lot of respect."

Meanwhile, Eric Matwijow, owner of the popular Hammer's Lot rear car park on Abbot Road, said he would like to see a line of communication between local businesses and the Bills, as was done during the stadium's 2013 renovation. Matviyov said it served as a bond during this time.

"We know there will be noise and stuff," he said. "But there may also be other factors and issues that need to be addressed."

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Orchard Park Fire District Fire Commissioner William Hanrahan said Highmark is the only NFL stadium he knows of that is protected only by a volunteer fire department, which "puts a huge strain on our system and on us. services we can provide".

He said he hopes the Bills organization will pay for more training for firefighters, particularly how to deal with potential hazards and emergencies on game days.

"We are a small county and a small town," he said. "We have 30,000 inhabitants and dozens of times a year we become a city with more than 100,000 inhabitants."

Members of Stadium Corporation, a subsidiary of Empire State Development, did not attend the hearing, but are expected to receive and review comments made there to determine whether any adjustments to the settlement are necessary.

To do so, they would have to hear substantial negative feedback about the stadium deal.

With 'one bite of the apple', Southtowns leaders call for focused development plan on new Bills Stadium

A planned $1.4 billion stadium for Orchard Park would propel the Buffalo Bills into the modern era of stadium design. But without a plan to encourage development around it, some say it will remain in a neighborhood with few side effects.

The Erie County Legislature must still vote and approve the agreement before the final paperwork can be signed.

"Look, if they come in and say, 'We need a new defensive back,' that's not substantive about the deal," said Stephen Gawlik, senior adviser at Empire State Development. "But when it comes to the structure of the deal, he will come back to the board."

The stadium company must approve all agreements that are part of the construction of the new stadium, including a 30-year lease that will take effect when construction is essentially complete in 2026 and that will extend the current lease, which expires. in July. community service agreement and a non-relocation agreement.

Explainer: What is the Erie County Stadium Corporation? And what role does it play in the Bills' new stadium?

Stadium Corporation of Erie County. plays a key role in delivering the agreement, as well as other stadium-related projects since its inception in 1998.

And once the new Bills stadium is built, Erie County Stadium Corp. will assume full ownership, and the county cedes ownership of the property to the state. Erie County currently owns Highmark Stadium and surrounding property, totaling over 240 acres, and leases it to the stadium company, which then subleases it to the Bills.

"We approve of the settlement, but the public comment period is very important. So if people come up with things that are really critical, we're going to consider them and either move forward or try to resolve them," said Erie County Stadium Corp President Bob Duffy. .

Until the hearing, the only feedback the stadium company had received was from the local masons' union, seeking answers on what materials will be used in the stadium's design. Rick Williamson and Albert Catalano spoke on behalf of local masons on Thursday.

Before that, two audiences were held, in July and October, where the public could speak. Both related to the environmental review conducted for the project and subsequently approved by the Erie County Legislature and the Erie County Stadium Corporation. Was approved.

Neighbors to the project, local residents and business people, also expressed concern at the October meeting about the impact the stadium and construction could have on their property.


key words

  • Buffalo Bills News Stadium
  • Stadium Corporation of Erie County.
  • empire state development
  • Public hearing at Bills Stadium
  • Residentes de Big Tree Road
  • Ecc Campus Süd
  • Orchard Park Fire District

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michael peter

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Michael J. Petro is a business reporter for The Buffalo News. The Buffalo State College graduate is a former sports journalist who previously served as an editor for The Sun and the Buffalo Law Journal.

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