DUNKIRK Central Avenue needs attention

Dunkirk’s aggressive plans for its waterfront need to keep moving forward. However, there is a critical need for city planners and residents to be concerned about the future of Central Avenue.

Once the center of the business district, Central Avenue is facing additional question marks now that Brooks Memorial Hospital has made it official: it will be leaving its location in the heart of the city. This leaves a huge hole — and creates even less traffic to the downtown area.

Central Avenue’s demise has been taking place for decades. But the city and downtown district has never recovered from the fire at the Masonic Temple building on the 300 block in February 2010. Once a bustling area during the week, downtown traffic continues to diminish. Without a doubt, it is taking a toll on retailers and any hopes for future business.

Common Council has a right to be upbeat about the potential future of the city. Its mayor is being aggressive in looking at adding attractions to the lake and working with developers in anticipation of Athenex. But what are city leaders doing about the street City Hall is located on? Not much.

Part of the problem with the 300 block are the buildings the trust of Robert K. Lesser took back in August from the United Secular Center, which defaulted on its mortgage. Unfortunately, it appears the Lesser family is uninterested — despite what they said in August — in doing any work on the structures that desperately need attention.

That is a major part of the avenue’s problem.

With Brooks leaving, possibly as early as 2019, traffic on Central Avenue could come to a screeching halt. For all the wrong reasons.

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