8:30 am
Wed December 11, 2013

General Mills seeking to close stretch of Michigan Avenue

Back room talks are underway on what to do about General Mills' request to close part of South Michigan Avenue on the waterfront.

The City Ship Canal runs near the General Mills plant off Michigan.
Credit WBFO News photos by Eileen Buckley

The milling giant is trying to close off the street between Ganson Street and the City Ship Canal, saying it needs to stop traffic and people interfering with plant operations.

The company is also opposed to construction of a large recreation complex called Buffalo RiverWorks nearby on Ganson Street saying it will interfere with road and rail access along what is an industrial street in an industrial neighborhood.

Councilman Christopher Scanlon says nothing will be done immediately on the request to close off the short section of street. Scanlon says General Mills isn't openly threatening to shut the plant.

"It's never been one of those we're going to take our ball and leave. Nothing like that. But they have raised concerns. Obviously they have a large operation down there and anything that develops down there could have an impact upon them," Scanlon says.

Scanlon says the plant is an important employer and a longtime resident of what was only an industrial waterfront until not long ago and he wants it to stay.

"You're talking about a business that has been here for more than 100 years. You're talking about a $51 million payroll, which affects God knows how many families in this area. So you don't want to see them go anywhere," he says.

Scanlon says there is an increasing need to deal with conflicts between old job-creating industries and increasing public desire for a Waterfront of recreational opportunities and boating.