We certainly do not envy the position that any board is in when it comes to making difficult decisions, but we would like to give credit to the Hamburg Planning Board for how it handled coming to a decision in regards to an application to build two eight-unit apartment buildings on Lake Avenue across from the Hills Plaza and next to the Our Mother of Good Counsel Apartments.
There is no easy answer on the best way to handle traffic concerns on Lake Avenue between South Park Avenue and McKinley Parkway.
Making a left turn from anywhere along that corridor is not easy.
With a plot of land properly designated for developer David Burke to build the apartments, the board reached a decision on July 5 that – while it does not solve all of the problems – comes to a sensible conclusion which will now allow the project to move forward.
A major provision that was placed by the Hamburg Planning Board was “no left turn” onto Lake Avenue by motorists exiting the apartments.
Alternative ideas discussed included access through Glendale to Oakwood into the apartment units.
However, the planning board decided against that idea and decided one of the better solutions would be to not allow traffic to turn out of the driveway in both directions.
On May 24, members of the planning board listened to thoughts offered by several people, including Michael Asklar of the Erie County Highway Department, Burke, Jerry Giglio, chairman of the Hamburg Traffic Safety Advisory Board and Brian Evaldi, 1st Assistant Chief of the Newton Abbott Fire Co.
What was interesting was the differences in opinions from each person on how best to handle the situation.
Some thought access through Glendale to Oakwood made the most sense.
Others felt it was a mistake, but that a driveway directly across the street from Hills Plaza could lead to a number of issues. Those ranged from concerns over headlights shining into as many as four apartments as well as the possibility of limiting future options for the plaza entrance in the event that redevelopment should occur in the plaza in the future.
Asklar suggested one way to help curb the problem may be to reduce to speed limit along that stretch of road. Currently, that portion of Lake Avenue is 40 mph.
One thing that seemed certain was that there was no easy solution.
Forbidding left turns could create some additional issues of its own. For those who want to go to McKinley Mall or example, they will either have to drive to South Park and then left onto Milestrip Road, or find a way to turn around in order to travel east on Lake.
It is not a perfect solution, but the no left turn should allow traffic to continue to flow.
The Sun supports adding the apartments, and hopes long-term the plaza that housed the former Hills Department Store for many years can see a revitalization.
It is a great location, as it is minutes away from the McKinley Mall and visible to the Blasdell/Milestrip Road exit and entrance to I-90. That visibility from the Thruway, along with its proximity to a busy mall give optimism that it could be a place of destination again in the years to come.
It thrived for many years and certainly could again in the future.
We certainly would like to see the plaza filled with cars again, as it was for several years.
There are a lot of ideas that were put on the table. The Hamburg Planning Board should be commended for considering all of them and reaching a conclusion that we hope will prove to be beneficial to everyone involved.