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CHEEKTOWAGA ROAD CLOSING SURPRISES RESIDENTS

A much-discussed intersection at Castlewood and Barbados drives in Cheektowaga is again the source of controversy after area residents coming home from work Friday evening found a concrete barricade blocking their route.

Although the T-shaped intersection has a history as a hot spot for collisions and property damage because of its steep descent, at issue now is the lack of proper notification to residents and town officials about its closing.

"When people left for work Friday morning everything was fine; when they got back there was the barricade," said Gloria Wodarczak, president of the Dartwood Homeowners Association, who fought to have a barricade removed from the intersection four years ago.

"We were not informed of it at all," said Arlene Inglut of 47 Knollwood Drive. "All of a sudden we wake up yesterday morning, and there they were closing the street off again."

Town Supervisor Dennis Gabryszak said that although the Highway Department has a right to open and close roads under law, he was "disappointed" in the way the job was carried out.

"It appears as though there was no communication to Town Board members, area residents, the police department or the fire department," said Gabryszak.

"I know I received no communication," he said.

Highway Superintendent Christopher J. Kowal disagreed, saying that proper notification was given to all emergency and busing agencies, and that Councilman William P. Rogowski was informed a full week beforehand.

The town Highway Department installed a barricade across the west end of Castlewood in May 1989 after more than 100 neighborhood residents petitioned to have the intersection closed because of safety concerns.

But just three months later, the Town Board voted to have the barricade removed because of other safety issues, such as the lack of police and fire department access to the area, and to study the road's traffic flow.

The Board also bonded $74,000 to have the intersection regraded to prevent future accidents, and to appease homeowners who fought against the barricade. Four years later the barricade is back up, leaving some residents wondering what became of the remaining money and why the repair was never completed as it should have been.

Kowal said that much of the money for the regrading project went into building Wedgewood Road, which gives residents direct access to Losson Road.

"Basically that decision (to close the street) was made 18 months ago when the Town Board allocated $160,000 to install Wedgewood Road," he said.

Based upon the expected building of Wedgewood, the Highway Department held off on doing the full-scale regrading project, he explained.

"Once Wedgewood Road was open, there was no need to keep that road open," Kowal said. "It's very unsafe."

Gabryszak, who met with residents Friday to gauge their reaction, said most of the people he spoke with were in favor of keeping the road open.

The next step, said Gabryszak, is to set up a meeting with area residents, Town Board members, the Highway Department, the Traffic Safety Commission and the police and fire departments "to once and for all resolve the question of whether that road should be open or closed."

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