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Adviser says Buffalo St. needs makeover

Most of Buffalo Street in Hamburg isn't pedestrian-friendly, according to consultant Thomas Yots.

But it's not exactly vehicle-friendly either, Yots said at a Village Board meeting Monday night.

"The parking is not always that easy to use," Yots said.

But then, he also found walking on Lake Street a little intimidating, with stretches that leave the pedestrian out in the open with cars whizzing by and a sense of vulnerability.

The issue, he said, is the way Hamburg has developed from a small village with a commercial heart into one with newer businesses interspersed with residences along its main streets, where some businesses have wedged themselves into older residences, and some chain retailers have put down their footprint.

Yots and partner Sandy Heiser were trying to convince the trustees that it makes sense to pay them $17,500 to come up with a set of design standards for Buffalo Street between Union Avenue and Legion Drive.

The board made no decisions, although members voiced concern about how to pay for the process, which would require a historical study and canvass of the area before recommendations would be prepared.

Trustee Laura Hackathorn said the board had been hoping to pay for the program with historic preservation grants but there are enough newer buildings in the mix to make that unlikely.

Hackathorn said she hopes to get something in place while the three-year, $21 million Route 62 reconstruction project is going on. The entire stretch of Buffalo Street included in the proposed study is part of Route 62.

"We know that people will have renewed interest in the village, in purchasing and building and developing because of the road project and the attraction of that," said Hackathorn. "So we thought this would be our next priority."

Design standards would attempt to encourage some similarities in building and renovation projects to give a sense of continuity along the Buffalo Street strip.

The lack of continuity is common to many communities, Yots said, especially where development has taken place over a long period.

"What we see is a real problem for you, but it's also a real opportunity," he told the board. He cited things that can be done, from as little as common painting schemes to careful landscaping with grass and trees.

He admitted to being puzzled by things such as an asphalt strip outside one village drugstore that is neither sidewalk nor parking area.

Trustee Michael Cerrone said that was simply the fault of bad development by a national retailer.

"I think that's corporate America's disregard for small-town America," Cerrone said.

e-mail: eploetz@buffnews.com

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