AMHERST, N.Y. (WIVB) — The board meeting was contentious Tuesday evening, with people speaking out about asylum seekers staying in Amherst. Supervisor Brian Kulpa says the town has the resources to welcome the 130 migrants currently staying there.

“This is not something the town was looking to deal with. This is a Federal issue. The Federal government should step up,” Kulpa said.

Kulpa says his town has been home to asylum seekers, refugees, and others in need of social services for years and it will be no different housing the migrants who were moved to Amherst from Cheektowaga. He says there is nothing the town can do to stop a private contractor from renting rooms from a private business.

“Just as UB students come and go throughout the year, just as hundreds if not thousands of people come in and out of Amherst on a regular basis, who’s names we don’t know who pass through this town, this is no different,” Kulpa added.

Amherst residents on both sides of the issue attended and spoke out during the town board meeting on Tuesday.

“We were not consulted in regards to bringing this crisis to our backyard. When will the citizens get a voice in what we are essentially funding?,” Kimberly Gabel said.

“If we can give a billion dollars for a football stadium, we can afford to take these people in and do something for them,” Robert Drdul added.

The meeting lasted just over an hour with several residents sharing concerns and also solutions. One resident said a food drive should be set up to provide more food options to migrants. Others were concerned about school tax increases with added students in the Sweet Home district and overall town safety.

Kulpa says the hotel where the migrants are staying averaged one call every day and a half earlier this year. Since the asylum seekers moved in, there has only been one call.

He encourages the town to stand together and deal with the hand it was dealt. Kulpa made it clear Amherst will not be seeking any legal action, including filing a temporary restraining order against New York City. The Town of Cheektowaga filed an injunction and is still going through the legal process.

Kulpa also supports Gov. Hochul’s call for expedited work authorization for asylum seekers as well as Rep. Nick Langworthy’s plea to add more judges to the benches to hear these cases in court faster.

Tara Lynch is a Buffalo native and Emmy-nominated reporter who joined the News 4 team in 2022. She previously worked at WETM in Elmira, N.Y., a sister station of News 4. You can follow Tara on Facebook and Twitter and find more of her work here.