Members of a Town of Hamburg planning committee want to sacrifice a longtime Lake Erie shoreline landmark for the sake of highway safety and public access to the water. It's a worthwhile trade, and one that officials who review highway grants ought to quickly support.
Generations of Southtowns residents harbor memories of Foit's Restaurant, perched on a narrow piece of land between Route 5 and the water. Most of the memories involve good food and good times, but more than a few center on the dangerous task of pulling out of a tiny parking lot into fast-moving traffic on a nearly blind highway curve.
Properly designed, the lakeshore scenic overlook proposed by Hamburg's Shoreline Revitalization Committee could provide access to the lake while easing traffic hazards. The restaurant buildings that restrict sightlines around the curve would be removed, and minimal new construction -- perhaps a gazebo -- is envisioned.
The site remains small for the purpose, but it ties in nicely with adjoining state shoreline and roadway protection projects on a stretch of the lakeshore commuter route that occasionally is washed by wave-top spray or coated with ice during lake storms.
The restaurant building and its additions have some history of their own. The first building originally served as a summer fresh-air hospital for infants from city tenements, one of the precursor sites for the Cradle Beach Camp that still serves disadvantaged children. By 1934 Elmer Foit had opened a restaurant, and only recently did it take another name. But the restaurant now stands vacant, and time has been less than kind to the buildings.
Town officials hope the overlook project will be selected by next spring for a TEA 21 Transportation Enhancement Program grant, in an amount that will depend on a negotiated sale price for a property appraised at $346,700. It's an idea definitely worth exploring, and one that could provide yet another small enhancement of local residents' ability to enjoy the natural beauty of the lake.