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Southtowns Auto Bureau could move to McKinley Mall

Eliminating lines outside the Auto Bureau at Erie Community College South campus is one of the major reasons why Erie County Clerk Michael P. Kearns wants to move the bureau to McKinley Mall.

Kearns said he visited all the auto bureaus when after he became clerk, and was astonished at what he saw at the small office on the border of Hamburg and Orchard Park.

"It was the winter time and I saw people standing outside," he said.

He said he is negotiating with McKinley Mall to move the bureau there. It would expand from six windows that serve the public to 12 or 15, he said. He hopes to have a lease before the County Legislature for its approval next month. The lease with ECC is up Dec. 31, he said.

One of the criteria in looking for a new location was more parking than the current site.

Parking is limited adjacent to the Erie County Auto Bureau at ECC South. (Barbara O'Brien/Buffalo News)

"We're really prohibited with parking. There's not a lot," Kearns said.

Another drawback to the ECC site was snow days. When the college was closed, the Auto Bureau closed, he said.

"We did not have control when the site opened and closed," Kearns said.

The existing office is about 2,100 square feet, while the new location would be 9,200, he said. He said the office was opened as a satellite, and it was a good bridge to a larger office. A larger office will be able to offer reservations, and possibly passports one day a week, he said.

Auto bureaus are getting busier, with the advent of the federal Real ID requirement for boarding domestic flights and entering military bases and some federal facilities, Kearns said. New York's enhanced license fulfills the Real ID requirement, but obtaining one means a visit in person to an Auto Bureau.

And it's not just customers who could benefit, but it could be a boost to McKinley Mall, which has seen several anchor stores leave.

"This could really be a positive for the McKinley Mall. We’re going to bring to them a tremendous amount of people," he said.

This would not be Erie County's first foray into a mall for an auto bureau location. The Eastern Hills Mall in Clarence also is home to one.


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