There is a lot of discussion taking place currently that could ultimately lead to a pair of eight-unit apartment buildings on Lake Avenue between South Park Avenue and McKinley Parkway, as well as finding a way to bring the former Hills Plaza back to prominence.
These are two ideas that are not bad in theory, but there is already an existing problem in that area which needs to be fixed before plans to develop take shape. Traffic is an ongoing issue along the Lake Avenue corridor.
For those who currently attempt to make left-hand turns out of Jubilee, it often presents a challenge as traffic bunches up from both directions.
The former Hills Department Store plaza is the plaza next to Jubilee and those issues are current with a plaza that has little activity. There are a few businesses in there, but there is not normally a lot of cars parked there or pulling out at any point.
The apartment complex that is proposed is across the street from the plaza.
The Sun would be happy to see that plaza – which used to draw a lot of people in the 1980s and 1990s – become a destination again.
But before that takes effect and apartments are placed that would mean at least 16 additional vehicles (and likely more) driving in and out all day long, something needs to be done and a plan needs to be put into place to create a solution to the traffic problem that currently takes place in pockets along Lake Avenue.
There are a myriad of reasons why people turn onto Lake. Some do to go grocery shopping at Jubilee or shop at Dollar General, which is in between Jubilee and the former Hills plaza.
Some use it as a cut through to McKinley Parkway to avoid the traffic buildup that happens on Milestrip Road to get to places such as the McKinley Mall.
There is also a road off Lake Avenue that cuts over to the Quaker Crossing Plaza, which is in Orchard Park.
Right now, it is a common site to see South Park Avenue traffic bunch up near Lake Avenue, and with Blasdell Elementary School on South Park not far from Lake, safety and welfare of the children should always be a first priority.
With summer vacation upon us, what better time to start working on a long-term plan than now?
If nothing else, hopefully the talk of a new apartment complex and plans to revitalize the plaza can spur ideas to come up with a traffic improvement plan for Lake Avenue.
We would certainly like to see more tenants move into the plaza and find new use for an existing building. It is still a good location. Not far from I-90, and moments away from the McKinley Mall.
It thrived once before, it would be nice to see the buildings spruced up and the parking lot fixed, a lot of cars parked there and money exchanging hands to help the economy.
Before anything else, finding a way to improve the traffic flow and make it easier and safer for vehicles and pedestrians should be the number one priority.
If the Hamburg Planning Board recommends to the Hamburg Town Board that they allow development of 16 apartments before traffic issues are addressed, it would be a major mistake.
We are confident that the issue will be addressed properly.
Like many plazas, it seems as if it is past its prime. But we hope this is not the case and that long-term, a plan can be made that will attract large numbers of customers there again.
This is a great time to put the issues of traffic, a struggling plaza and a proposed apartment complex on the table and put the entire issue under one umbrella.
If done properly, it would be ideal to see all three things happen and give that corridor a boost. Hopefully plans can come together and help bring back a stretch that was a destination for shoppers for many years.