Neighbors voice final concerns during the last new Bills stadium hearing

Those Orchard Park residents raise some final concerns going forward with the new Bills stadium deal going forward.
New Bills Stadium rendering
New Bills Stadium rendering Photo credit Buffalo Bills

Orchard Park, N.Y. (WBEN) - It was a quiet night on Thursday for Empire State Development at SUNY Erie Community College's south campus. Not many residents gave feedback for what could be the final hearing for the new Buffalo Bills stadium.

Live On-Air
Ask Your Smart Speaker to Play News Radio 9 30 W B E N
Listen Now
Now Playing
Now Playing

On January 23rd, a general stadium deal was approved by the Erie County Stadium Corporation, a subsidiary of Empire State Development. Now that all agreement details have been revealed to the public, the ESD scheduled to hear from residents about what they thought going forward.

Predominantly, there was mostly concern from neighbors, including some about construction debris. "I've been through many different construction and remodels in my personal and professional career. As much as we say they're going to be nice, clean, and neat. They never are," said Jay, who lives on adjacent Big Tree Road.

"Who's the contact person going to be if there is a problem with any of the construction stuff that's going on," asks Eric Matwijow, owner of the Hammer's Lot. "And we realize there's gonna be noise and stuff. But there might be some other factors or issues that have to be taken care of."

Some were there to bring attention to the service they could provide to construction. "These are career opportunities for individuals that are just coming in high school, people that are now looking for maybe a second career," said Rick Willamson, President of Bricklayers and Craftworkers Local 3 NY. "The trades all the union trades are great opportunities for them to do that. So we want to promote in the design of the building and the project as much work possible that can be done by local people, creating local jobs for years to come to benefit our community."

Orchard Park Fire Department Commissioner William Hanrahan was in attendance and spoke asking for additional help to provide their services to the county and the Buffalo Bills, as their department is small.

"It's the only NFL stadium that we know of in the country that's protected by all volunteer, that creates a great strain on our system," Hanrahan said. "We have never received any tax dollars, or any reimbursement for our services. It's to the point where with the new facility going in, the services that with the construction that we are going to have to provide, as a fire district, are going to be extensive. It's things we are generally not used to a construction of that type in that size and what we are hoping that the Bills organization and the county will look at is working with us to provide the ability to get the training and personnel up to speed so we can provide that service to you."

Some attendees spoke on their overall interest of the new stadium. "I'm not against a new stadium. I'm very excited about it," said Paul of Lackawanna. "But I think if we're going to do this, we should do it right and we should get money not only for the taxpayers of Erie County, but we should also get money where the money is: from the NFL and from the Buffalo Bills."

"They got it right with the way the wind blows," Matwijow comments, in reference to the way it is oriented and how there are implementing techniques to help combat strong wind gusts.

Most, when asked, like the design of the stadium. "I love this stadium, it looks like the one in London and it looks fantastic. A little concerned about the upper deck and the steepness of it," said Matwijow.

Some still think a domed stadium is the way to go. "It would make more sense, if we're going to spend the money, to build the correct Stadium, which would be a domed stadium based on our erratic weather we have with the Great Lakes up here," says Paul from Lackawanna.

Going forward, there are some things, according to General Counsel of the ESD, Stephen Gawlik, has to address with the board going forward on this deal. "If we get negative comments, the board needs to consider those. We did get some negative comments. So we're assuming we'll be back in front of the board to consider those comments probably later in February."

"There's things that that we will address, but I didn't see any showstoppers," Gawlik said. "I think some of the neighbors issues, the fire companies issues. We'll need to talk to the neighbors. We'll talk to the Bills and then also the bricklayers. We've already had conversations with the Bills about the work that they'll be doing for the stadium."

Featured Image Photo Credit: Buffalo Bills