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Name of city street changed to honor Hensel ; Council tables plan for Senecas to operate ice pond

The City Council on Wednesday changed the name of a city street to honor a former city alderman, civic leader and businessman who was instrumental in developing the West End of the city.

Mayor Jeffrey L. Pond and the City Council sponsored the resolution to change Hetzel Street to Charles E. Hensel Street, effective immediately. The street is located near Seneca Elementary School, where it intersects with Center Street. In recent years it has become a dead-end -- split by I-86 entrance ramps and other construction projects.

So, the Council agreed to the name change for the eastern portion of the street for 1,584 feet to where it becomes a dead-end.

The official street maps will be changed and a new sign erected during a dedication ceremony at a date to be announced, Pond said. The western portion of Hetzel Street appears to also have been renamed by the Seneca Nation of Indians who have erected signs indicating the street as "O:Hi:Yo Way."

Pond said the street name change is not official because the Senecas "took down our signs, put up theirs and didn't go through the city, for an official change."

Hensel served as city alderman in Ward 2 from 1976 to 1981 and was elected Council president for three terms. He also served on several city commissions.

Born in Wisconsin to German emigrants and with only an eighth-grade education, Hensel came to Salamanca in the late 1930s. His first venture was a Sunoco gas station in the West End that grew into a car dealership. He also opened the first 10-store strip plaza in Cattaraugus County and was instrumental in the construction of several other buildings and houses.

With his wife, Dorothy, he operated the projects under the name of Hensel Enterprises and the Broad Street Plaza. He died in 1991 at 79.

In other matters, Alderman Michael R. Smith moved to waive the agenda to consider a contract with the Seneca Nation of Indians to open the city ice pond for the season. Alderman Edward J. Riley gave a second, but when the Council voted, there was a tie, 2-2, because Alderman Roger Bailey was absent. Pond then voted no to break the tie, and the matter was not brought up for discussion.

Pond noted that two weeks ago, Mike John and several Senecas approached the Council offering to take over the ice pond so it could open. The city does not have the money to pay staff to open the facility because of budget cuts linked to the Seneca Nation withholding casino revenues.

Pond said an agreement was drawn by the city attorney to operate the pond and given to the Senecas, who went back and forth with several changes.

"They volunteered to take over the pond, and then when [Seneca President Robert Odawi] Porter and their attorney got involved, they added items. It's my duty to protect the city and I don't feel this is good for the city."

"It was very interesting to me that the very people who caused the pond to be closed now want it to open. If they'd paid the money due for 2009 on time before they went to the state [about other issues], things might be different."

Before the City Council met, the Recreation Commission met and approved a bid from Darryl Kettle to operate the concession stand for food and skate rentals at the ice pond, contingent on the pond opening.

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